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For the discussion of Movies, Television, Comics, and other existential distractions.

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markabaddon
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Postby markabaddon » Wed Nov 15, 2006 12:16 pm

Just finished a classic science fiction novel: Slan by AE Van Vogt. This was the first time I had read him and I was impressed. The ending was little hokey, but I thought it was an excellent allegory on discrimination and dealt with telepathy, a fairly common them in science fiction, in a very unique and fresh way.

Not sure if it is still in print, but definitely worth purchasing if you can find it
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristrocratic forms. No gov't in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, gov't tends more and mroe to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class

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David Loftus
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Postby David Loftus » Wed Nov 15, 2006 3:17 pm

Yep, that's an old classic by a longtime buddy of Harlan's.

Don't tell anybody, but I haven't read it yet.

Right now, I'm finishing up Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried (really terrific!), and Donald Rayfield's bio of Chekhov (pretty darn good); I'm about 200 pages into Niall Ferguson's brand new The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West, and not quite so far into a new biography of AC/DC (though I suspect I'll finish it much sooner).
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Wed Nov 15, 2006 4:59 pm

Read Gag Rule, a nice little polemic by Lewis Lapham, one of our finest men of vitriol and letters. He really sticks it to the freedom haters in our midst.

Style and firey wit, the best way to make a young man stay hard.

Carstonio
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Postby Carstonio » Wed Nov 15, 2006 7:36 pm

David Loftus wrote:Don't tell anybody, but I haven't read it yet.


I haven't read it either, and I only knew of the book's existence because Harlan mentioned it in one of his essays. I had assumed that in the SF community, you can only claim to be an SF fan if you've read certain books, and "Slan" was one of them. Is this accurate?

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Hathor
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Postby Hathor » Wed Nov 15, 2006 8:39 pm

Once again, I git the Snipe Sack. :lol:
"The Grays" by Whitley Strieber. Ugh. They're coming for our DNA and our emotions in exchange for information to prevent impending environmental disaster. Except we can't communicate. And billions of them will be here by 2012 to bond with us. Extraneous boy genius thrown in for quasi-messianic purposes.

HE should sue. Besides, HIS inter-dimensional beasties thrived off our sex drive. Sure, I wouldn't mind being the monkeyseed in the middle, and two aliens and a probe sounds like a decent Saturday night if you throw in a couple of pizzas and a case of beer each, and- WHOOPS! I think this belongs in Rob's HEE HOO thread, now... :wink:

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Ezra Lb.
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Postby Ezra Lb. » Thu Nov 16, 2006 11:35 am

Hey Mark if you want more go here.

http://www.store.nesfa.org/Merchant2/me ... 86778-34-5


This is the good stuff!

And while you're at it go ahead and get the Cordwainer Smith collection, a personal fave.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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markabaddon
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Postby markabaddon » Thu Nov 16, 2006 2:52 pm

Ezra, thank you very much for the suggestion, I will definitely add that book to my shopping list.

(David, I promise not to tell anyone, but the books is definitely worth the time if you can find a copy)

Just started The Humanoids by Jack Williamson. Only a couple of pages into this one as I got into a conversation with another rider on the bus this morning, but excellent so far.

A friend of mine recently gave me her science fiction and fantasy collection of about 500 books and I am slowly working my way through some of the great authors I have heard about but have never read.

Some of the books are being shipped off to my Dad, including some Cordwainer Smith (one of his favorites too, Ezra), Aasimov, and CM Kornbluth.
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristrocratic forms. No gov't in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, gov't tends more and mroe to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class

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FrankChurch
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Postby FrankChurch » Thu Nov 16, 2006 3:46 pm

Oooo, I heard Harlan hates Striber.

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markabaddon
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Postby markabaddon » Thu Nov 16, 2006 4:29 pm

Carstonio, I would not say that there are any books that you have to read to be considered a Science Fiction fan, because the different sub-genres are so diverse. People who like military fiction might say that Heinlein is required reading or those who insist on reading "hard" science fiction might insist on Charles Sheffield or cyber punk fans might insist on William Gibson......

Anyone who says that you had to have read this book or that one to be a fan is a complete yutz.

Frank, any insight as to why Harlan hates Streiber? Granted, I think the guy is meshuganah, but I am not sure why HE would hate him
Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristrocratic forms. No gov't in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, gov't tends more and mroe to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class

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Hathor
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Postby Hathor » Thu Nov 16, 2006 6:12 pm

Putting "HARDER" Science fiction in a context of, say, reading a Tom Clancy novel has always been a great comparison given that a hell of the lot the situations, emotions, and skills required to cope on a submarine are similar to some of the perils one would face "out there".

I've always liked it better than the "final frontier, cowpoke" analogy.

Usually, it's the serendipity of speculative fiction that scares off people I know who IMHO:lol::roll: would probably enjoy SCI-FI.

Then there's Strieber...

Anyhoo...
"Sailors To The End"
More forensic discoveries in the investigation of the fire aboard The USS Forrestal.
Given I'd heard about TWELVE sides to this story throughout my life, it's a nice change to have something with actual evidence gathered so one can make an educated opinion on this tragedy instead of having to rely onmilitary dogma and counterculture speculations. About damn time.

JohnG
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Postby JohnG » Thu Nov 16, 2006 9:58 pm

Carstonio wrote:
David Loftus wrote:Don't tell anybody, but I haven't read it yet.


I haven't read it either, and I only knew of the book's existence because Harlan mentioned it in one of his essays. I had assumed that in the SF community, you can only claim to be an SF fan if you've read certain books, and "Slan" was one of them. Is this accurate?


It's a real classic of the genre and the kind of book a hard core fan of a certain age would have most likely read, back in the days when there just wasn't as much stuff available. Van Vogt was considered one of the very top SF writers, then sort of went into an unfashionable period, then rediscovered. You may see the phrase "fans are slans" from back in the day.

Cary Bleasdale
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Postby Cary Bleasdale » Thu Nov 16, 2006 10:08 pm

currently reading "Elmer gantry" and "It Can't happen Here"

They have replaced Lovecraft as the most terrifying books ever.

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Postby Moderator » Fri Nov 17, 2006 10:59 am

JohnG wrote:
Carstonio wrote:
David Loftus wrote:Don't tell anybody, but I haven't read it yet.


I haven't read it either, and I only knew of the book's existence because Harlan mentioned it in one of his essays. I had assumed that in the SF community, you can only claim to be an SF fan if you've read certain books, and "Slan" was one of them. Is this accurate?


It's a real classic of the genre and the kind of book a hard core fan of a certain age would have most likely read, back in the days when there just wasn't as much stuff available. Van Vogt was considered one of the very top SF writers, then sort of went into an unfashionable period, then rediscovered. You may see the phrase "fans are slans" from back in the day.


Yeesh. Maybe it's my morning for being contrarian, but I just reread Slan a year ago and was badly disappointed (sorry, Mark and John). It did not hold up at all from my original reading back in the seventies.

Perhaps it's because I read it shortly after reading A Canticle for Leibowitz and Alas, Babylon, two phenomenally well-written books, but I found the writing style to be clumsy. Too many adjectives and poorly constructed action sequences. Van Vogt was a terrific writer, but this one I can't agree is the classic we all thought it was (again, sorry Mark and John).
- I love to find adventure. All I need is a change of clothes, my Nikon, an open mind and a strong cup of coffee.

JohnG
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Postby JohnG » Fri Nov 17, 2006 12:25 pm

Barber wrote:Yeesh. Maybe it's my morning for being contrarian, but I just reread Slan a year ago and was badly disappointed (sorry, Mark and John). It did not hold up at all from my original reading back in the seventies.

Perhaps it's because I read it shortly after reading A Canticle for Leibowitz and Alas, Babylon, two phenomenally well-written books, but I found the writing style to be clumsy. Too many adjectives and poorly constructed action sequences. Van Vogt was a terrific writer, but this one I can't agree is the classic we all thought it was (again, sorry Mark and John).


I haven't read it, or the Null-a books, in years, so you're probably right in more than one respect. Van Vogt, for me, is in the same realm as "Doc" Smith, or something like the Doc Savage books: stuff I really loved reading in a certain place and time, and there it stays, a happy memory. Good for concepts and big thinking, maybe historical context and influence, plus a sense of wonder that isn't to be found again, at least for some readers. That counts for a lot. But you're right in that some of the guys who learned their chops writing for pulps, quick and dirty, don't hold up that well upon rereading, especially compared to the kind of material you mention. IIRC Van Vogt was one of the pros who wrote to rules--a new idea every 800 words, that sort of thing--and that's not so readable nowadays, maybe.

We sort of had this discussion of classics before, I think. Classic isn't just a work of the highest quality, but also a benchmark, an influence on the future, and something of a shared experience, I would think.

We get, what, somewhere on the order 200+ non-franchise SF novels a year, plus collections, reissues, graphic novels, slash fiction, reenactments with salt shakers and pipe cleaners for all I know. Not all that long ago, maybe pre 1975, it was possible for a fan to keep up and be conversant with almost everything printed with a little planet or atom symbol and housed over in "that" section, at least compared to nowadays. "Slan" was something that I'd bet was more of a fan favorite and a common experience of genre readers than most any books we'd see nowadays. "Dune" might have been another, but it's had a much broader mainstream appeal. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, in any case...

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Steve Evil
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Postby Steve Evil » Fri Nov 17, 2006 2:13 pm

I actually enjoyed his Anarchistic Colosus. Very exciting. Van Vogt I found was better than Smith, but not as good as Hamilotn. A writer of adventure stories that never drew attention to his faults.

Alas, many of that era couldn't quite pull it off.


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