Unca Harlan's Art Deco Dining Pavilion

Discussion of the man and his work.

Welcome to the Art Deco Dining Pavilion! Here's the deal. This is Harlan's little breakfast nook at Webderland. When he's not here, we chat about him and his work. When he is, we act like we're guests in his home. That's about all there is to it. (link to More specific rules) Oh, and since the nook doesn't exactly hold a crowd (and to prevent the less frequent voices from being drowned out), please limit yourself to one post a day unless Harlan asks you a direct question. The Pavilion Annex is available if you're the logorrheic type. Also, we have archives of old posts. RSS Feed

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Displaying board posts 1 through 25 - showing messages at a time.

St. Pete, FL - Monday, June 26 2017 4:38:25

There is a 2-hour interview with Gay Talese (correctly pronounced Ta-lazy) on C-Span. His thoughts on Frank Sinatra Had a Cold - 'I didn't even want to write the damn article.'

Beautiful Northridge, CA - Sunday, June 25 2017 18:15:53

Harlan Ellison referenced in Gail Godwin's new novel

On GRIEF COTTAGE by Gail Godwin




Also, for fans of Hitchcock's VERTIGO, I highly recommend this mesmerizing
"novel" called MADELEINE E. by Gabriel Blackwell.

Ben Winfield
- Sunday, June 25 2017 13:25:7

Sorry about that, everyone. Still some residual pain lingering.

Ben Winfield
- Sunday, June 25 2017 13:19:33


"Once again, allow me to thank you for your usual clarity and common sense."

Just don't talk to him about Doctor Who, if you can help it. he and I had a bit of an ugly spat over the subject.

- Sunday, June 25 2017 12:34:51

Nice to hear from you again on the board. It's been about the same: people carrying on badly and goodly.

Douglas Harrison
Kamloops, BC - Saturday, June 24 2017 22:52:42

Hope it was a harmonious and all-around splendid birthday, Susan.


Kenneth Stevens <stevens.kenneth@gmail.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee - Saturday, June 24 2017 18:29:38


I have been puzzling over your use of two seemingly mutually exclusive terms, "monolithic" and "stratified," to describe the same Bronze Age societies. Something referred to as monolithic is generally regarded as being uniform and undifferentiated (think Star Trek's Borg), whereas that which is stratified is marked by differentiation and variance (think Huxley's Alphas, Betas, and so on). My best guess is that you latched onto those adjectives merely because both of them have vaguely negative connotations, but perhaps I am in error.

In any case, your closing statement calls to mind a conversation that I had last year with a man who was horrified over the outcome of Britain's referendum on Brexit.

"Don't those fools realize that what they've done could sink the world economy?" he said.

"If one referendum in one country can sink the world economy," I pointed out, "then perhaps handcuffing all the nations of the world together via globalism isn't such a good idea."

By the same token, if large numbers of people of wildly different ideological and religious inclinations find atomistic individualism so disagreeable, even unbearable, then perhaps that suggests that there may be a fundamental problem with atomistic individualism itself.

Robert Nason <nightriderblue@aol.com>
Whitestone, NY - Saturday, June 24 2017 14:51:41

A gobsmacking happy birthday to Lady Susan Ellison! Long may she reign!

Iane <Diane bartels>
Chicago , S - Saturday, June 24 2017 14:46:39

here I a!am, you guys. Been busy, fighting, insurance company, trying to very some physical therapy backy.Mean while, I so, what exercising I can to try y keep as much muscle strength as I can. not u toy who e.butt,it would hey a lot easier and you a lot faster, with a therapist. IM,not walking yet.Enough about me. how have you all been? Happy birthday, Susan, hope ypare having a splenderificios day u. Happy Happy be
Ayer,birthday Harlan.it jpened by,

Dennis C
Glendale, CA - Saturday, June 24 2017 7:48:4

Happy, Happy!
Happy Birthday to Susan! Here's hoping you and Harlan have a wonderful day!

- Saturday, June 24 2017 5:12:38

Wishing a HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Susan Ellison. Hoping you have a great time at Chuck e Cheese!

- Friday, June 23 2017 23:7:54

Contemporary and classic conservative writers
Robert Nason, I'll echo some of the comments of Kenneth Stevens in saying thanks for the interesting run down on conservative novelists. Michel Houellebecq is one I've never read, so that particular listing, in and of itself, is an eye opener. I know of Wodehouse and, as you say, I'm not certain I'd group him in a discussion of "conservative-minded" novelists.

From your initial remarks, it sounded as if you might have been musing, mainly, about American conservative novelists. From the list of names in his response, looks like DTS might've thought so, too. But you were definitely referring to contemporary conservative novelists in your ongoing discussion, which is why I thought you'd have a list of writers -- other than Wolfe and Christopher Buckley -- on hand. Perhaps somewhere down the road...

Connie Willis most DEFINITELY belongs in the liberal camp. But, yeah, her latest book -- CROSSTALK -- is a fun, and funny, read -- and doesn't get quite as narratively bogged down as the Nebula and Hugo Award-winning Magnum Opus, BLACKOUT/ALL CLEAR.

In any case, thanks for the insights regarding writers you prefer.

- Friday, June 23 2017 22:42:32

Earlier in his writing career (1991) MICHEL HOUELLEBECQ wrote an interesting book about LOVECRAFT translated into English in 2008 as H. P. LOVECRAFT: AGAINST THE WORLD, AGAINST LIFE which pretty much reveals the point of view taken in the book. The French have admired and adopted LOVECRAFT the same way they admired and adopted POE.


Very much enjoyed WALKER PERCY's LOST IN THE COSMOS. A terrific book even though I agree with very little of Percy's personal philosophy. But what difference does that make? A good book is a good book. Never could understand why someone would only read books by people they already agree with.


"that the atomistic individualsm of modern life is a cul-de-sac" Perhaps this attitude explains the nostalgia on the part of much of the Left in solidarity with the reactionary Right (and our brain dead religions)for those monolithic stratified Bronze Age societies.

Kenneth Stevens <stevens.kenneth@gmail.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee - Friday, June 23 2017 17:56:41

Robert Nason
Good call on Houellebecq. He is one of the few writers who truly understands that the atomistic individualsm of modern life is a cul-de-sac.

I'll have to check out that Paul Malmont book. It sounds delightful.

Robert Nason <nightwriterblue82@gmail.com>
Whitestone, NY - Friday, June 23 2017 17:29:58

Obviously "accept that" should have been "except that." Damn these pesky typos! (Which are entirely my fault, alas.)

Robert Nason <nightwriterblue82@gmail.com>
Whitestone, NY - Friday, June 23 2017 17:11:29

SIMON: I would answer your question more completely accept that these days I've been reading classic fiction from times past and not keeping up with contemporary writers as much as I used to. When it comes to current comic novelists, Tom Wolfe and Christopher Buckley still seeme to me to be the two giants, while over in France Michel Houellebecq is writing dark satires that have made him the most influential French novelist since the days of Camus and Sartre. He may not fully be a conservative but he's certainly strongly anti-left, being the child of two hippie parents who were rather indifferent parents. I have a copy of his latest novel, SUBMISSION, next to my bed, which I hope to get to soon.

To broaden the scope of the conversation to conservative writers with a comic gift, I would add Kingsley Amis, who was left-wing in his youth and became conservative in the wake of the 1960s. (His nonfiction work on science fiction, NEW MAPS OF HELL, was of course one of the first books by a mainstream writer to take the genre seriously.) Anthony Powell, author of the magisterial multi-volume novel A DANCE TO THE MUSIC OF TIME, could be classed in the conservative camp, along with P.G. Wodehouse, who certainly was conservative by temperament if not overt politics.

Back here in the States, Saul Bellow was a giant among comic novelists who after 1970 could plausibly be called conservative. Another major writer who left the liberal camp is David Mamet, who's written some very funny plays since he's announced his apostasy, such as ROMANCE and NOVEMBER, though I admit his earlier work is still his best. One of the best conservative novelists working in America today is Thomas Mallon, whose books are filled with fine satiric touches. And the late Walker Percy was a Catholic conservative novelist who could be fiendishly funny in some of his works like THE MOVIEGOER or LOST IN THE COSMOS. A fellow Southern conservative is the essayist Florence King, who doesn't seem to be publishing much lately but can't be beat for uproarious misanthropy, as in her book WITH CHARITY TOWARD NONE.

But ultimately I don't care what about a writer's politics. As Auden said:

Time that with this strange excuse
Pardoned Kipling and his views,
And will pardon Paul Claudel,
Pardons him for writing well.

So leaving politics aside, I'll mention that Alen Steele and Connie Willis have written some of my favorites SF and fantasy novellas in recent years. And I derived enormous pleasure from a novel by Paul Malmont, THE ASTOUNDING, THE AMAZING, AND THE UNKNOWN, which imagines Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and L. Sprague de Camp getting involved in a wild adventure (something to do with Tesla) while they were working in a lab in Philadelphia during the Second World War. Malmont even manages to get L. Ron Hubbard into the mix, and his portraits of all four writers rings true.

Finally, Marisha Pessl is a young woman who has written two novels, SPECIAL TOPICS IN CALAMITY PHYSICS and NIGHT MOVIE, which appear remarkable. I'm looking forward to reading both of them. I have no idea what her politics are and don't care; just flipping through the pages in reading a few passages here and there, I can see that she is wise and knowledgeable beyond her years, with literate Alan to burn.

Robert Ewen
Harrow, Middx UK - Friday, June 23 2017 16:59:17

MHR of the D
It's Saturday here in the UK, which means just one thing:


Rob & Paul
Da Brits

- Thursday, June 22 2017 23:18:13

Robert Nason, perhaps Marci K. was leaning more toward something like "assumptions" made, or opinions expressed, without evidence.
While you gave a pretty good example with Christopher Buckley, you didn't list many more. Please do! I love to be enlightened. Especially about good books and writers. :)

I, myself, prefer the uncommon to the common. The latter is waaaay too prevalent these days. :)

Robert Nason <nightriderblue@aol.com>
Whitestone, NY - Thursday, June 22 2017 18:32:38

KENNETH: Once again, allow me to thank you for your usual clarity and common sense.

Kenneth Stevens <stevens.kenneth@gmail.com>
Knoxville, Tennessee - Thursday, June 22 2017 18:22:2

Marci Kesserich
The merits or lack thereof of THE KINGDOM OF SPEECH have no bearing on the matter at hand, namely, whether Wolfe is a worthy comic novelist.

Also, although I believe in the notion of objective truth, I am always leery of people who claim it is a "fact" that, say, Chandler is a better detective novelist than Hammett, or vice versa.

While we are not entitled to our own facts (Acquired charecteristics cannot be inherited no matter how many geneticists Lysenko orders shot) we most definitely are entitled to our opinions.

What are your opinions on Wolfe as a comic novelist?

Marci Kesserich <marcik@hotmail.com>
Asheville, NC - Thursday, June 22 2017 17:32:14

Robert Nason asks: "And why are the conservative novelists the funny ones these days?"

Assumes facts not in evidence.

As for Tom Wolfe, I trust we don't need to re-examine the vast incompetence of "The Kingdom of Speech".

Robert Nason <nightriderblue@aol.com>
Whitestone, NY - Wednesday, June 21 2017 14:41:50

Forgive my multiple use of the word hilarious. How many different ways can you say that something is funny? I would consult my thesaurus but that would be the easy thing to do, to quote one of our unintentionally funny presidents of times past.

Robert Nason <nightriderblue@aol.com>
Whitestone, NY - Wednesday, June 21 2017 14:23:16

DTS: Thank you for your gracious comments. I've actually read most of Al Franken's books and find him belly-shaking funny, even when I disagree with his political views. I'm looking forward to reading his new book, AL FRANKEN, GIANT OF THE SENATE, a memoir of his life in that august body, which some people are saying may be the most entertaining political memoir ever written. Amusingly enough, before he was actually in politics, Franken wrote a fake memoir about running for president. If he ever actually runs for president and then writes a memoir about it, we will have two Franken memoirs of running for president, one fictional and one real. The mind boggles. But he is an extremely funny man.

I raised the question in my post about why the best comic writers "these days" are conservative. You responded with a list of great liberal/left comic writers, but the first four names happen to be dead, in some cases for a very long time. But I'm second to none in appreciating the brilliant comic gifts of Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut, among some of the other names on Shindler's list. I would add another another hilarious writer, a conservative/libertarian, and an essayist rather than a novelist, P.J. O'Rourke. HOLIDAYS IN HELL and PARLIAMENT OF WHORES are two of the funniest books I've ever read. I recently hot a kick out of his account of the 2016 presidential campaign,HOW THE HELL DID THIS HAPPEN? (he seems to be obsessed with hell), in which he admits he voted for Hillary Clinton, though he skewers both her and the Donald, along with Bernie.

In truth, liberals and leftists and conservatives can all be trenchant satirists. Some of the conservative, even reactionary, greats include Evelyn Waugh (his hilarious pre-BRIDESHEAD REVISITED novels of the twenties and thirties), Jonathan Swift, and Aristophanes. His comedies misrepresented Socrates, but he was still the funniest man in ancient Greece.

About Tom Wolfe, I politely suggest we agree to disagree.

- Wednesday, June 21 2017 13:36:41

Always fun to discuss the original OUTER LIMITS since that was the show that really fried my little brain way back when. The local Atlanta station Channel 11 used to rerun the show and I can remember many Saturday afternoons over at my grandmother's house watching on a big ole piece of furniture TV set. An eight year old could have rested comfortably on top of this thing. Probably the best way to watch such a spooky show, in ghostly black & white on shitty equipment. Which is why I'm leery of Blu-ray releases of these old TV shows. Seems like diminishing returns. In high definition you start noticing toupees and makeup smears. And even on a DVD played on a Blu-Ray machine the bridge of the Enterprise begins to look suspiciously like particle board and Christmas lights. Nothing is guaranteed to kill the magic like seams showing.

The best book I've seen about the show is "The Outer Limits Companion" by David Schow. It was originally published in the mid-80s and slightly revised in the 90s. Sadly it seems to now be out of print. One interesting chapter deals with the scenarios prepped for the second season that went unproduced because Leslie Stevens and Joseph Stefano were forced out in a ABC network fight at the end of the first season. Unfortunate because the shows actually produced in the second (half) season save the two by Our Host were mediocre when they weren't just bad. Our Host's occasionally stated opinion (also in the book) that the second season was better than the first is very mysterious given the actual results. Interestingly "Demon" is more typical of the first season with its melancholia and downer ending.

What really adds to the mood and power of the show for me is the first season soundtrack music by Dominic Frontiere. What most people seem to remember though is Harry Rubin's cheesy and much overused Theremin figure from the second season.

Ah well it's all there in glorious black & white to make of it what ye will.


Who controls Hollywood? CGI companies. The coup was as swift as it was total. Haven't you noticed all the green screens appearing everywhere? Look! There's one behind you. Soon all will be simulacrum and replica. (And when we come here to live all you poor demoralized flotsam will fall without a single shot being fired.)


Has anyone seen WONDER WOMAN? I have been waiting for the crowds to thin out. Hope it's good. I had business in Cleveland Park last weekend and when I walked by the mighty Uptown theater I saw a long line which included several mother & daughter teams. The film apparently is being taken as a feminist statement in some quarters. We definitely need more images of strong women and nothing says feminism like a hot babe who can kick ass.

Can controversy be far behind? The star of WW, Gal Gadot, is a proud Israeli citizen who of course did her service in the IDF and has made public comments of her support for Israel and opposition to Hamas. This is enough to bring down the opprobrium of many; several middle eastern countries say they will not allow the film to be shown because it stars an Israeli and some of our indigenous Leftishists are calling for a boycott. Well good luck with that! I feel for the cognitive dissonance experienced by all the anti-Semitic feminists out there. Must be hell.

- Wednesday, June 21 2017 0:5:29

Apologies to Robert Nason
NASON: I went off half-co -- no, waitaminute. Never actually done that and (if I was Catholic, I'd make that sign they usually make right now) I still don't have to, so...

I wrote a quick note that was just a little over half-baked last time out. Mostly because when I think of the state of politics in America (especially on the Republican side of things, which includes conservative media TV, radio and pundits), I tend to see red. And the thought of WILLIAM F. BUCKLEY (and all that he helped inspire) really made my blood boil.

Fact is, THANK YOU FOR NOT SMOKING _is_, in fact, a terrific book (read it a while back). Movie is pretty good, too. So I should NOT have maligned CHRISTOPHER Buckley as an author of political satire, since, from what I have read (admittedly only one novel) he's damned good.

On that point: you were/are right, I was/am wrong.
As for ALL of the good/funny novelists and satirists being _conservative_ these days, you couldn't be more wrong.

While he's not a novelist, Al Franken _still_ makes me chuckle every time I read one of his books (including his latest nonfiction bestseller). I enjoyed the hell out of the way he ticked off Limbaugh and O'Reilly and a lot of the others on "the right" due to all of their insane, over-the-top lies (which far too many in America swallowed whole). Have to admire the fact that he HATES IT when people in the political arena lies -- one reason his last chapter is devoted to Trump (here's hoping he writes an entire book devoted to that walking political disaster) -- and he even points out that when Obama did the same (such as saying people would be able to choose the doctor they wanted under his plan) he was likewise disappointed and ticked off.

A politician that WANTS to tell the truth.
THAT is definitely a rarity.

In any case, apologies for saying you were wrong about Chris Buckley; and DO check out Franken's satire. Funny stuff.

Cheers from oz,

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