Pavilion Digest: May 2003

A plethora of perplexing pavilion posts. The Pavilion Annex thread, the Pavilion Discussion thread, and monthly digests of all messages from the Pavilion.

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HERCMember Frank

Postby HERCMember Frank » Fri May 02, 2003 5:16 pm

Name: HERCMember Frank
Source: unca20030523.htm
Dear Unca Harlan, and all others:

I currently am suffering from a major monkey on my back. More like a monkey's U.N.C.L.E.

Within the last month I've purchased a couple very entertaining soundtracks from "Film Score Monthly" for the series I SPY, and THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. Both have been constants in my CD player, but the U.N.C.L.E. soundtrack is particularly doin it for me. So much so that I've recently been haunting used books stores and buying up any and all U.N.C.L.E. paperbacks I could find. I've only found a few in the series:
#1:THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. by Michael Avallone
#2: THE DOOMSDAY AFFAIR by Harry Whittington
#5: THE MAD SCIENTIST AFFAIR by John T. Phillifent
#14: THE CROSS OF GOLD AFFAIR by Fredric Davies.

My question to you, Mr. Ellison-- not so much because you worked on the U.N.C.L.E. series, although that prompted me to post here, but because, well, you know this stuff, and you've already introduced me to many other writers who have become favorites ( Cornell Woolrich, Mervyn Peake, John D. MacDonald, Fritz Leiber... ) is: Have you any opinion of the authors I've mentioned? Any I should be sure to read? I'm afraid I'm ignorant of all of them.

Thank you for your time!


Postby Doug » Fri May 02, 2003 7:15 pm

Name: Doug
Source: unca20030523.htm
HERCMember Frank - I've been thinning out my shelves to make space, and I've got a near complete set (missing #23) of the Ace U.N.C.L.E. paperbacks currently looking for a good home. If you're interested, feel free to shoot me an e-mail and I'll give you more info.

Diana posting as: A Rose By Any Other

Postby Diana posting as: A Rose By Any Other » Fri May 02, 2003 7:24 pm

Name: Diana posting as: A Rose By Any Other
Source: unca20030523.htm
Dear Frank,

If "the little past problem" you were refering to is me?

No, I haven't vanished.

Guess what, though? I always get *really* high scores for reading comprehension when I take aptitude tests. (of course the results also indicate "Does not play well with others, but we all know that by now; don't we?)

See; I'm abiding by the rules of this forum. (following the rules. It's just so crazy it might work!) If I have something Ellison related that I want to communicate, or if I have a question I want to ask Mr Ellison, I'll make a post. And I'll limit myself to one post in a given day. And except for that, you won't be seeing any of my beautiful, eloquent, thought provoking and passionate words on this message board. And since, amazingly, there are great stretches of time when I actually have absolutely nothing to say about or to Mr Ellison, that means you won't be hearing from me much. Be happy about that Frank. It's kind of a GOOD thing.

But, don't worry Frank, if you're missing me, "just close your eyes, and think of me, and soon I will be there" (James Taylor, "You've Got Friend)

I realize, that by making THIS post I'm likely to evoke yet more of that obsessive, Rain Man like counting that Barney seems to be compelled to start at any hint or suspicion of my presence, but oh well.

Of things Ellison...

Today I found (and purchased) a used copy of The Fourth Omni Book of Science Fiction, which has a story in it by Mr Ellison, "When Auld's Acquaintence Is Forgot". I also purchased a copy of Richard Matheson's, "The Shrinking Man", on the strength of Mr Ellison's lauding of the author, who he describes (on the inside cover page) as "AMBIDEXTROUS, UNPREDICTABLE, ALWAYS FIRST-RANK...MATHESON HAS BEEN FOR TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS ONE OF OUR MOST CONSISTENTLY ORIGINAL AND MASTERFUL CREATORS OF IMAGINATIVE LITERATURE. FROM THE INITIAL FANTASY NOVELS RIGHT UP TO THE 1970's THERE HAS BEEN ONLY ONE THREAD JOINING THEM;

I've yet to read the story or the book.

I have nothing else to say at this time, in this place.


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Chuck Messer
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Postby Chuck Messer » Fri May 02, 2003 7:58 pm

Name: Chuck Messer
Source: unca20030523.htm

Why bother setting up the old board in a new way? Mr. Johnny-come-lately sez:

Because this here is a labor of love for you, otherwise, you'd have said awfuggit a year ago.

Because we can run interference if you need us to. I think Tom C. was not the only one to think that it was "not their place" to say anything. I think Tom C. or anyone else has the perfect right to speak up if a discussion is running too long or getting a little too hot.

Because if this is the only place to post, the trolls will find it. I like the realtively troll-free atmosphere here in the pavilion. When they find the Webderland, and get to the visitor contribution part, they see BULLETIN BOARD. Much more attractive to the more Goldblum-like types, who might be fooled by the Art Deco Dining Pavilion, and so they are drawn to the B-Board like a mediterranean fruit fly to a bug zapper. Keep the Pavilion beautiful.

The old board allows more room for a discussion of a wider array of topics which might need more than one posting. A rule of thumb for long-running topics might be that if the parties involved find themselves repeating the same thing over and over, if the postings are peppered with variations of "I know you are, but what am I?" then the topic is exhausted. Drop it.

Maybe limit the older board to, say, three posting per day as a rule of thumb. If the other poster didn't "get it" after three posts, then they never will. Let it go. Move on.

And finally, try a little brevity. Remember the most important thing is knowing when to stop....


Bye for now.


John K

Postby John K » Fri May 02, 2003 9:20 pm

Name: John K
Source: unca20030523.htm
I was thinking of Mr. Ellison's fiction today, and it occurred to me that it sometimes demonstrates outrage, which can seem almost outre in contemporary fiction.

Take, for example, John Updike. It seems to me that his prose can cover even the worst acts with a sort of forgiving gleam, giving them the aura of past, forgiven sins. Maybe that's partly a function of his Christianity, but regardless, I can find no sense of persal outrage in his fiction. I can't see Updike getting worked up about much.

There are, of course, writers who deal with it (some of them women, some of them minorities, some of them neither) but often at the price of characterization or even story. And that cheapens the writing.

But Ellison is able to craft an honest, complex story, with believable, complex characters, that nevertheless in whole or in part shows distinct, unmistakable outrage. I'm thinking of "The Whimper of Whipped Dogs" in particular.

And of course Ellison's capable of more than just that. He doesn't always write prose that screams its fucking lungs out. His fictional scope also includes wistfulness, regret, humor, love, courage, and kindness.

But Ellison is still capable of outrage. That's a rare and important thing in the gray apathetic sameness that encompasses much of contemporary fiction.

And it's an aspect of his work we should be grateful for.

Phillip Cairns

Frank's Take on A.I.

Postby Phillip Cairns » Sat May 03, 2003 5:15 am

Name: Phillip Cairns
Source: unca20030523.htm

I've re-read your comments on "A.I." All of what you say I'm sure will make my next viewing of the movie more interesting, but I suspect in the same way reading an academic text is interesting. I don't see it bringing me any closer to feeling for David. Matter of taste, I suppose.

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Night Visits from the Invisible Man

Postby inabif » Sat May 03, 2003 6:03 am

Name: Inabif
Source: unca20030523.htm
I recall reading an interview, years ago, in which Mr. Ellison mentioned that it was his reading of Pynchons The Secret Integration in the Saturday Evening Post that was one of the factors that spurred him to tackle the first Dangerous Visions anthology. Ive always found a similar vibe in the work of both writers a kind of post-Beat rhythm that could access high and low culture, could utilize myth and pop culture with equal facility, could make you shiver and laugh in the space of a single page. In that same interview, Mr. Ellison mentions that Pynchon would occasionally phone him or drop him a line now and again. Ive often wondered if Mr. E has heard from the invisible man in recent years.

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Andre Norton Dedication

Postby AlexKrislov » Sat May 03, 2003 7:26 am

Name: Alex Krislov
Source: unca20030523.htm
As usual of late, I haven't enough time for a proper post here. But I simply had to share this.

I was at a nearby estate sale today. It was a surprisingly uncrowded house, given the treasures within. Ancient linaments, still in their century-old wrappers. A recording device for children, circa 1930 to 1935, by my estimation. Hundreds of piano rolls, but no player piano.

And dozens of nearly perfectly preserved paperbacks from the 1950s. One of which was an Andre Norton I'd never heard of. THE STARS ARE OURS! screamed the title in heavy square font. Knowing Andre Norton's work as I do, I felt it sported a surprisingly cheesy cover, even for Ace books: A man waking a woman up from apparently cryogenic sleep. His arm is around her shoulders, and she's giving him an indisputable come-hither look. An Ace SPECIAL EDITION the cover blares. And no wonder--the price was a whopping 35 cents.

And inside, on the copyright page, for Ace was not a publisher to waste precious paper on a mere dedication:


Who is a veteran of galactic voyages and an ever
prepared guide to the realms of outer space.

(For those who don't know, Mary Alice "Andre" Norton was, with Harlan, one of the founders of the Cleveland Science Fiction Society.)

Harlan, may I ask--was this book, published when you were but 20, the first ever dedicated to you?


Jim Hess

Harlan Ellison

Postby Jim Hess » Sat May 03, 2003 8:19 am

Name: Jim Hess
Source: unca20030523.htm
In keeping with the spirit of this board, posting but once a day, and directing inquiries to the subject of the board, ELLISON: I have for Harlan Ellison a question: A number of years ago you did a workshop in Denver, which I attended. During that particular adventure I won't soon forget you read an excerpt from a book, the title and writer of which elude me. But I DO remember piece and parcel of what you read, which goes something like this:

The sun beat down on him. The sun, hot and terrible, dried and lay waste to everything. The sun, unforgiving and relentless, made the journey slow.

That isn't exactly the excerpt, of course. But what was the name of the book and the writer? I want to say Cliford Simak, but that doesn't ring right.


Until next time. . .


Fun bit of Ellisonia

Postby Colleen » Sat May 03, 2003 9:34 am

Name: Colleen
Source: unca20030523.htm
The creative process at work:
Webderlanders, check out the Oct.1989 issue of Harpers, article
titled "In Pursuit of Pure Horror". Harlan, Robert Bloch, Suzy
McKee Charnas, & Gahan Wilson develop and plot an updated version
of the Tell-Tale Heart. It's quite illuminating and fun.

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Harlan Ellison
Harlan Fucking Ellison
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Postby Harlan Ellison » Sat May 03, 2003 11:02 am

Source: unca20030523.htm

LYNN: Good luck with your parents, kiddo. Now that Susan and I have completed phase VIII of the March/April/May book-promotion-bookstore-autographing-sessions-university-and-convention-lectures-superFlu-incapacitation-jury-service-long-and-far-traveling-please-just-kill-me-now Nightmare, with only a further laser surgery on the right eye this Tuesday (I'll let yez all know when it's over), we should start thinking about us and you two flexing on over to Picanha for meat-onna-stick. We'll stay in touch. Say hi to Bill for us.

TOM C.: Damned if I can remember the EXACT, the PRECISE reason for thanking Tony Hillerman in the SLIPPAGE acknowledgments. Here's how I assemble those thankyous: as I write a story, I sometimes have occasion to call someone for an errant bit of minutiae or bit of specialty knowledge. Whoever it may be, if s/he can move me along in the writing, in however minuscule a pace or space, I jot down the name on a list I keep in my desk. It may be years before that particular story gets assembled into a collection, and with the other twenty or so other tales, my list of thankyous may be several pages long. So I alphabetize them, and enter them in the book. And sometimes, so many years have elapsed, and so many things have happened, that details such as what Tony said or did that helped me, are lost in the mists of memory. But I NEVER forget to say thankyou. Essential courtesy. (Incidentally, if you've never heard Tony speak, I must let you know that the single most hilarious speech I've ever heard--and I've heard the best, trust me--was Tony's monologue on THE GREAT TAOS BANK ROBBERY. I literally--this is more info than you wanted, but it's the only time it ever happened--literally fell out of my seat at a Bouchercon listening to his droll, deadpan, uproarious telling. Fell out of my seat and just LAY there, in the aisle, so constricted with laughter that I couldn't get up.) (It's been published since, but as enjoyable a read as it may be, it doesn't hold a candle to Tony's stand-up.) And, oh, yeah, Tom, we are indeed talking about the same novelist, Tony Hillerman. A swell guy, a gorgeous writer, and a good friend; but in this instance ... sorry, I can't recall how I imposed on him to advise me at a crucial moment of creation.

JON STOVER: There are hundreds, if not THOUSANDS, of examples of my updating, cleaning-up, revising, correcting, amending, altering, editing and otherwise neatening my stories. I drive collectors and academicians crazy with my sweeping-up and repainting. Virtually every time a story comes in, in page proofs for an anthology, I do something to it. For a MAJOR example, take a look at the upcoming VIC & BLOOD that'll be published this month or next. Compare just the front matter/intro material from the original version, or even the short stories as they first appeared ... and you'll see that I've moved it all into the future. This is by no means unusual for me. We learn as we grow older in the craft, and youthful gaffes -- schoolgirl grammar and syntax, illogicities, misused words, misspellings, plot holes, historically corrupt or outdated facts -- all of these drive me nuts. I cannot help myself. I'm in thrall to an auctorial compulsion to make each story perfect, to botox and liposuck every wen and pustule and wrinkle out of it. So I revise like mad. Almost every time, almost, and have been doing so for years and years. Which is why my awful 1956 short story "But Who Wilts the Lettuce" became the much better "Send Not to Ask For Whom the Lettuce Wilts" a couple of years ago.

BRIAN SIANO: Which leads to your query about SPIDER KISS. Someone would have to compare the original ROCKABILLY edition with, say, The Mysterious Press hardcover that Otto Penzler did, or even better, the version in EDGEWORKS 2. But I don't think that the shade of the paper would have anything to do with revision. More likely it was a matter of the printer changing the roll of printpaper, and it was slightly discolored. But who knows? You could be right. I'm pretty sure that by 1961-62, when I wrote the novel, I no longer used the word Negro (unless it was for a specific purpose), and the term Black was my designation of choice for Ladies and Gentlemen of Color (as Bob Morales calls himself and them).

HERCmember FRANK: Never read any of the plethora of U.N.C.L.E. novelizations. During that period there were franchise novels being written left and right, and most of them were pulpy and hastily written. The exceptions were few and far between. Geo. Alec Effinger did a couple of PLANET OF THE APES paperbacks, Ron Goulart did a number of excellent adaptations, Alan dean Foster and Kev Anderson are masters at the form; and even Thomas Disch did at least one, maybe more, of THE PRISONER novels; and a few of the early STAR TREK books were done by first-rank writers whose work I liked. But I never read an U.N.C.L.E. novel, and of the five writers you asked me to rate, well, several of them are dead, several of them I'd never read at all, and several of them would not be fairly commented-on were I to make an after-the-fact, johnny-come-lately evaluation. You should like what you like, kiddo, and to hell with my opinions.

JOHN K of Grand Rapids: What a lovely and perceptive view of my work. At least >I< think it's lovely and perceptive! I'm still often accused of writing to "shock" (as if that's a bad thing), usually by people who haven't read anything I've written in thirty years -- and they still remember how their mundane world was upset by "A Boy and His Dog" or "The Prowler in the City at the Edge of the World" -- which they read when they were thirteen or so -- and they have no idea of stories like "Mom" or "Laugh Track" or "Goodbye to All That" or "Grail," which are far more representative of where I work now, and have been working for the last twenty or so years. But the quality of outrage you cite, which I take to be the highest compliment you could pay me, is an aspect of my writing that comes from the core of me; and while I often try to deify it on the lecture platform by calling it "passion," you are dead on the money identifying it as outrage. Much of the world pisses me off, and what astonishes ME, is that more people out there aren't made as bugfuck by it as I am. As I've said, too often ever to withdraw it, even now at almost-age-69, "I go to bed angry every night, and get up angrier every morning."

Thank you. Thank you. And, oh, yes, thank you.

INABIF: I haven't heard from Tom Pynchon in a few years. But that's not unusual. Remind me sometime to tell you about the evening I never met him, at which I apparently met him. So the answer is yes, but no. It is also no, but yes, of course.

And that caps it for this weekend. See you later.

Yr. pal, Harlan

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Postby robochrist » Sat May 03, 2003 12:29 pm

Name: Rob
Source: unca20030523.htm

U.N.C.L.E. is a rara avis, even here. In all the enjoyable anecdotes about your adventures on the high seas of crappola t.v., your work on the show - the two scripts I'd still love to see - almost never came up. Hell, I'd read more about your souring experience writing for THE FLYING NUN (thanks largely to The Glass Teat)!

...thus: Was U.N.C.L.E. just another assignment to blow off or was it a pleasurable experience for you? Were they an intelligent group to work with (it's my understanding Robert Vaughn was a smart guy)? Did you like how your episodes were filmed?

(If I finally managed to come up with a question succinct and interesting enough for you to want to reply, I'll have felt like I'd won the lottery).


...and FRANK:

I actually didn't have a chance to look at your entry on A.I. I realize I'm horrendously biased but I'll scroll back with an open mind. Even if I wind up disagreeing with you, a person who can draw eyes like you just obviously did can only do so feeling passionate about something. I wouldn't want to take that away from you (whether I believe you know film well enough as an art or not) because I KNOW that feeling. That feeling can be like an irreplaceable companion; a companion no one can take away from you. I dislike Spielberg and I explained why ad nauseum (should he come out with something that would change my sentiment you'll know). I won't try to push that in your face anymore.

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Harlan's Recent Writing Style

Postby BrianSiano » Sat May 03, 2003 1:23 pm

Name: Brian Siano
Source: unca20030523.htm
To Harlan: good to hear you're feeling better, and the best wishes for Susan. Thanks for the word re my guesses on _Spider Kiss_ as well. Maybe someone here who's likely to have a first edition of _Rockabilly_ could check it?

To Colleen, re that forum on horror. It's reprinted in an anthology of the Harper's Forum that was published a few years back. It's not in print, but it's probably obtainable in used bookstores. Other neat things in that collection are a round table on the Perfect Murder (including Donald E. Westlake), and a set of utyterly hilarious advertisements for the Seven Deadly Sins, created by noted ad agencies.

And back to Harlan, re his comments on people accusing him of merely writing to shock: Harlan, the obvious aspect of your recent work is a much more antic, playful narrative, where wildly disparate "bits" are put together, and the narrative voice is likely to introduce wonky jokes and odd wordplay. Stories like "Goodbye to All That," "The Man who Rowed Christopher Columbus Ashore," and "Eidolons" are probably the best recent examples of this, although "Repent, Harlequin"'s clearly an antecedent.

I'm probably glossing over other examples in my memory, but it seemed to me that this was an approach you _hadn't_ used in a long time, or kept it to stories that were clearly playful (like "From A to Z in the Chocolate Alphabet"). But now, you're doing it in stories that try to say more, like "Eidolons," and it seems to a mode you're using more often these days.

I guess I'm asking why this approach seems to have caught your interest recently. Is it just your mood these days? Has there been a slew of writers whose work's inspired you to be more playful? Or am I just focusing on stories you've designed to mke Susan giggle like a fiend when you read them to her?

Gunther Schmidl

Vic & Blood

Postby Gunther Schmidl » Sun May 04, 2003 1:15 am

Name: Gunther Schmidl
Source: unca20030523.htm
I'm back after a long-ish hiatus and just finished catching up with this board, so: hi all.

Now for the inevitable question: can anyone confirm that the new Vic & Blood book coming out is this one?

It certainly looks like it, but one can never know...

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When you revise "The Man Who Rowed Christopher Columbus Asho

Postby Hathor » Sun May 04, 2003 1:21 am

Name: Hathor
Source: unca20030523.htm
Don't forget how the Anachronist left that bag of money on the piano bench so Jay Leno wouldn't get arrested.

Along with Brian's question, I wondered if looking back on your body of work (Here comes that schoolgirl syntax)you had a "favorite" period, or if you regard everything you write as perpetual works in progress.

(Fell Down The Old Man Did Dyslexic I Am. Later Together String Goodly Question)

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