Pixel Scroll 7/21

Lists and definitions highlight the stories in today’s Scroll.

(1) Pat Cadigan on Facebook about winning a Seiun Award:

Anyway, since 1990, when I heard Cristina Macía talk about the challenges of translating work from English, I have tried to be more conscious of my language. I don’t know that it always makes a difference…actually, I don’t know that it ever makes a difference. But I do know that stories change in translation.

The first story I ever had translated was my first sale, “Criers and Killers” (thank you, Marta). I read French well enough that I can check a translation provided I have a French-English dictionary handy. That story is so much better in French. I can’t even tell you how much better it is. I’m sorry I can’t remember the name of the translator. I was less conscientious back then (pre-1990).

And now “Girl-Thing” has won the Seiun for best translated short fiction in Japan. (If you’re tried of hearing about that, I’m sorry. My only advice is, scroll, baby, scroll.) I’m so pleased that it’s my first Seiun and I’m delighted. But I know that my translator, Mr. Yooichi Shimada (yes, it’s Yooichi with two o’s) made me look good in Japanese.

Translators, whether they are translating to English or from English, don’t get half the recognition they deserve. They not only have to know the other language well enough to understand *intended* meaning as well as vocabulary and syntax (synecdoche, anyone? How about sarcasm? Hyperbole?), they have to understand story structure, the characters, the setting *in the cultural context of the writer* and to make all of it meaningful to people of a different culture. Maybe that sounds like something not so hard to you. And it’s not like people in a non-English-speaking country are totally aliens––thanks to global media, we know more about each other than ever before.

But there are certain *ambient* differences that never occur to us, things that are virtually invisible in our lives, the things we do all the time without even thinking about them. Translators have to keep those things in mind, too.

So my humble thanks to Mr. Shimada.

(2) Click to see a photo of Jim C. Hines hugging the restored Galileo shuttle that File 770 has been tracking since it was rescued from storage and auctioned for $70,000 in 2012.

Before.

Before.

(3) Friends have sent me this link a total of six times! It’s a post on Mental Floss about Harlan Ellison, “The Author Who Wrote In Bookstore Windows”.

He started at 1 p.m., craning the necks of passerby outside the shop. They wondered about the man sitting in the window, hunched over a typewriter. It was like a piece of glass that allowed you to see the gears and pistons of a machine.

When the Dangerous Visions bookstore in Sherman Oaks, Calif., closed that day, Harlan Ellison had completed “Objects of Desire in the Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear,” a short story that, yes, included a pregnant corpse and added three suspects.

Ellison did this a number of times, including in a public area of the 1978 Worldcon where he was a guest of honor.

(4) BBC Culture has issued a new list of “The 100 Greatest American Films”. Here are the ranked sf and fantasy films (“fantasy” in the loose sense of magical and impossible).

Each critic who participated submitted a list of 10 films, with their pick for the greatest film receiving 10 points and their number 10 pick receiving one point. The points were added up to produce the final list. Critics were encouraged to submit lists of the 10 films they feel, on an emotional level, are the greatest in American cinema – not necessarily the most important, just the best. These are the results.

  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey (Stanley Kubrick, 1968)
  1. The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939)
  1. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)
  1. Dr Strangelove (Stanley Kubrick, 1964)
  1. It’s a Wonderful Life (Frank Capra, 1946)
  1. Back to the Future (Robert Zemeckis, 1985)
  1. The Shining (Stanley Kubrick, 1980)
  1. Groundhog Day (Harold Ramis, 1993)
  1. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Steven Spielberg, 1977)
  1. The Empire Strikes Back (Irvin Kershner, 1980)
  1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981)
  1. Night of the Living Dead (George A Romero, 1968)
  1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  1. ET: The Extra-Terrestrial (Steven Spielberg, 1982)
  1. The Dark Knight (Christopher Nolan, 2008)

(5) Lawrence Person goes into overwhelming detail about additions to his Zelazny collection in “Library Addition: Another Major Collection of Roger Zelazny Books and Manuscripts”.

(6) John C. Wright’s “Great Books and Genre Books” is generating quite a lot of comment. Its premise, which he develops in detail, is —

As much as it pains me to say it, my reluctant conclusion is that there is no great Science Fiction literature.

Now, before you get out your crying bags, fanboys, keep in mind that the standard for being a Great Book is extremely, absurdly high. It is the best of the best of the best. There is no Western that makes the cut for being a Great Book; no mystery novel; no horror novel (unless we stretch a point to include HAMLET, because it has a ghost scene). One might even argue that no romance novel that makes the cut, not even GONE WITH THE WIND, and that is a damn fine novel. Genre writing does not reach the stratospheric heights of Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe.

However, the part I like best is Wright’s effort in the comments to combat nihilists who want to define classic sf works out of the genre. (I can’t make the link work, but it’s a comment logged Tuesday, July 21st 2015 at 2:30 am.)

Any definition of science fiction that rejects the core books and stories that are on everyone’s list of the greatest science fiction books and stories of all time is a useless definition.

And, in each case, the argument is the same: anything not Hard SF is not SF at all. Unfortunately, the statement is false. Even at the height of the Golden Age Campbell published and readers read works that do not fit the stricture of Hard SF, including all the books but one listed on the Baen list. That one is 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA.

If the Baen list strikes you as not representative, please feel free to consult Hugo or Nebula award winners, or any serious reader of SF’s top ten essential books of SF. You will find the same result.

The reason why the clerks in bookstores you pretend to despise shelve those books where readers can find them is that this is exactly where readers look to find them when they are looking for what they the readers consider to be science fiction books.

If you wish to say that the consensus science fiction readers over decades and generations have not the authority to define what is science fiction, that would be an argument on which I have nothing further to say.

(7) We here in drought-stricken California are lucky to find living grass in our yards, but after last week’s heavy rain in Ohio John “Noah” Scalzi found a crawdad and a live fish in his lawn.

252 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/21

  1. Well done, Pat! I really loved that story…

    Ok, Kyra! Here’s a spot for the brackets! (And…. SECOND!)

  2. Just for informational purposes, the actual blog post reference from JCW is several posts first posted there in 2007 and combined here.

  3. And here is Round 3 of the Bracket, for all those interested! This is the first seeded round, in order to increase the likelihood that the very strongest contenders will move on the last few rounds. I suspect that the choices will get significantly harder to make after this round …

    1. AZI AND THE ALLIANCE AGAINST THE ASPECTS OF THE ACCELERATIONISTS
    C. J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light

    2. THE SANDWORM SOLUTION
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)
    Frank Herbert: Dune

    3. GENIUS AI IN WINTERMUTE VS. GENLY AI ON WINTER
    William Gibson: Neuromancer
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    4. SHOWDOWN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

  4. Round 3, my choices:

    1)-Lord of Light. The Cherryh is a strong book, but this is LoL!
    2)-Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. Dune is likely to win, but Tip deserves support and this is the sole collection remaining.
    3)-The Left Hand of Darkness. One of the greatest novels ever written in the field. Neuromancer is excellent, but LHoD is better.
    4)-Frankenstein. The mother versus the father. Mom wins.

  5. And in case anyone missed previous postings of the rules, such as they are:

    Basic rules will be:

    1) You can declare one book in a pairing the winner. An explanation why would be nice but is not required.

    2) You may declare any pairing a tie or say you cannot decide, An explanation why would be nice but is not required.

    3) You may declare that a book that I have selected as a representative book by an author is clearly THE WRONG BOOK, that author wrote another book which is CLEARLY superior, and you will vote for that one instead. Explanations why, along with insults to my intelligence and ancestry, would be nice but are not required. (Please note that it should ideally be an SF book, published before 2000.)

    4) You may declare that there is a book by a completely different author which is clearly better than EITHER BOOK that I have foolishly selected for a given pairing, and vote for that instead. As above, explanations, insults, SF from before 2000, etc. etc.

  6. Kyra, you are an evil, evil woman….

    1. C. J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station. By a whisker. A very very thin whisker.

    2. James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)

    Ok, this one is easy. Tiptree’s a much better writer.

    3. Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    Another hard one, but LeGuin wins.

    4. H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds

    Gotta go with the Wells, here, but again a hard choice.

    Interesting coincidence; did you notice that it was a female author vs. a male author in each bracket?

    Cassy

  7. You say it’ll get difficult next round? It’s already almost impossible this round!
    1. AZI AND THE ALLIANCE AGAINST THE ASPECTS OF THE ACCELERATIONISTS
    C. J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light

    2. THE SANDWORM SOLUTION
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)
    Frank Herbert: Dune

    3. GENIUS AI IN WINTERMUTE VS. GENLY AI ON WINTER
    William Gibson: Neuromancer
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    4. SHOWDOWN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

  8. Ohhhh lawds.

    1. Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light

    2. Frank Herbert: Dune

    3. Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    No contest. Le Guin is the better writer, and Left Hand… is definitely the better story

    4. Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

    This was the hardest bracket, esp since it’s been so long since I read both the books. I don’t think I can adequately judge who the better writer is, but Frankenstein is the better story, if only by a tad.

  9. 1. AZI AND THE ALLIANCE AGAINST THE ASPECTS OF THE ACCELERATIONISTS
    C. J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light

    This item reminds me of what they say about a real prize fight when you let the opponent hang around too long. I haven’t voted Zelazny in any earlier bracket, but he goes for the decision in this round.

    2. THE SANDWORM SOLUTION
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)
    Frank Herbert: Dune

    Muad Dib says you can’t sit here…

    3. GENIUS AI IN WINTERMUTE VS. GENLY AI ON WINTER
    William Gibson: Neuromancer
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    Neuromancer hasn’t weathered the passage of time as well as the competition.

    4. SHOWDOWN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

    Frankenstein is a cultural icon, while War of the Worlds is a cornerstone of the sf genre. I have to pick one, so…

  10. Re: the 100 Greatest American Films:

    If I don’t get this out, my head will explode!

    Any list of the 100 “greatest American films” which puts Duck Soup at 95 is seriously flawed!

    I never forget a list, but in this case, I’ll make an exception!

  11. The Princess Bride didn’t make the movie list and Eyes Wide Shut did? Inconceivable!

  12. 1) A former colleague had C. J. Cherryh as a high school Latin teacher, but I don’t remember anything about Downbelow Station, and Lord of Light has stuck with me for decades, so Zelazny continues to get my vote.

    2) Tiptree.
    I couldn’t choose among Herbert, Heinlein, and Asimov in the last round, but Herbert loses by a mile against Tiptree.

    3) Tough, but Le Guin wins it.

    4) Shelley. Frankenstein.
    Everyone voting should ask themselves whether they’re voting for the book, or for Orson Welles or Boris Karloff (and Elsa Lanchester and Peter Boyle and ..). Voting for Wells because you lived near Grover’s Mills, NJ, is ridiculous, because the Martians landed in Surrey, south of London.

  13. 1. I feel guilty for not having read the Cherryh book, but I can’t not vote for Lord of Light.

    2. Tiptree again, but it’s a close one.

    3. Left Hand of Darkness. I agree with our esteemed host that Neuromancer hasn’t aged gracefully.

    4. War of the Worlds. Another close one.

  14. Pat Cadigan and Jim Hines both made me smile with those posts. I love the smart appreciation of good things and people’s hard work.

    Round 3:

    1. AZI AND THE ALLIANCE AGAINST THE ASPECTS OF THE ACCELERATIONISTS
    no vote – I don’t know how to pick between these.

    2. THE SANDWORM SOLUTION
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)
    Dune enriched my mental world a long time, but Tiptree keeps giving.

    3. GENIUS AI IN WINTERMUTE VS. GENLY AI ON WINTER
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness
    No slight to Neuromancer to say it doesn’t match this competition.

    4. SHOWDOWN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    tie – I genuinely can’t pick between these.

  15. 1. Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light

    2. Frank Herbert: Dune

    3. Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness(wjhile Neuromancer may have spawned a genre, LHoD still stands alone)

    4. H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds(in part because Jeff Wynnes musical version is better than any Frankenstein musical I have ever seen)

  16. One watches things that make one sick at heart.
    This is the law: no gain without a loss,
    And Heaven hurts fair women for sheer spite.

    From “The Tale of Kieu”

    1. Cherryh
    Either way I vote is a betrayal of a favorite author. In the end lovely prose has to fall to plot, pacing, character development, world building, and alien ecology. In my head Lord of Light was in the final two and my nomination here has surprised me. In the end I’ve re-read Downbelow more often.

    2. Abstain
    I really do need to read the Tiptree for all the love it has gotten here!

    3. Le Guin
    Neuromancer defined a sub-genre. It is a beautiful piece of noir playing on the future shocked nightmare dreams of the 80’s. All the more remarkable is that it was born on a mechanical typewriter. That said, it is too nihilistic, mechanistic, and lacking in character development to move forward against Left Hand.

    4. Frankenstein
    Wells wrote a seminal book. Shelley though asks questions of the nature of man, the ethics of science, and the duties of a creator. Philosophically it still rings out.

  17. 1. AZI AND THE ALLIANCE AGAINST THE ASPECTS OF THE ACCELERATIONISTS
    C. J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station
    A tactical vote in an effort to delay Zelazny’s forward march courtesy of the evil Zelaznoid faction who persist in ruining everything that has been good and true about the honorable traditions of this bracket voting. When oh when will they learn that they are just alienating the ordinary, everyday, working bracket voter who just want to vote on works by authors who don’t have ‘Z’ in their name?

    2. THE SANDWORM SOLUTION
    Frank Herbert: Dune
    Zandworms win.

    3. GENIUS AI IN WINTERMUTE VS. GENLY AI ON WINTER
    Urzula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness
    Already committed to this winning.

    4. SHOWDOWN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    Mary Zhelley: Frankenstein
    Jeff Wayne’s War of the World’s was the first album I bought with my own money…but watched Cumberbatch as the monster far more recently.

  18. 2. Tiptree

    4. Shelley

    I am not qualified to make a call on the other competitions, I fear…

  19. @Camestros Felapton: Not so fast, my friend. What if I told you that “CJ Cherryh” has a silent and invisible “z” hidden inside? Would you change your vote then?

  20. Even if you counted HAMLET as horror, there wouldn’t be a horror novel on Wright’s list, because HAMLET isn’t a novel.

    I don’t much like his argument, because I think it’s far too rigid and worshipful of the past, as if what makes for Great Books is simply received wisdom not to be questioned, and part of that wisdom is that they’re old. The list of Great Ideas — as if there’s a settled list, rigid and complete, more stable than the Periodic Table, because it admits to no additions — I find questionable as well, but when it turn out that one of the Great Ideas is “Animal,” the whole claim falls apart for me. Apparently, we’re into nouns, here at Great Ideas Inc.

    But then, engaging with his argument makes little sense for me, because I disagree with almost every one of his postulates, from his dismissal of all of Twentieth Century literature to his definitions of SF and fantasy. The idea that fantasy is only fantasy if it “impersonates… medieval and ancient songs, epics and folktales” is absurd, and the idea that contemporary fantasy is all “elf opera” in which the fantastic elements are nothing more than flavor is even more absurd. His description of elf opera immediately brings to mind Lev Grossman’s Fillory novels, and if Wright thinks the fantastic elements in those are just there for flavor, he’s blind.

    So it makes no sense to engage with an argument where I disagree with virtually all the premises and with the worldview of the person making it.

    Can SF produce Great Works? Sure, any genre can. Wright says there are no Westerns on the list, but I’m not sure TRUE GRIT shouldn’t be there. Heck, if we’re considering Great Works, rather than just plays, poetry and prose, I’m not sure UNFORGIVEN shouldn’t be up there. They both grapple with big ideas and do so lyrically and well.

    Has SF produced Great Works? I don’t know, but I wouldn’t look to the pulps first, I’d look to FRANKENSTEIN and R.U.R. and THE HANDMAID’S TALE and RIDDLEY WALKER, works like that. Asimov and Heinlein may be founding fathers of SF, but they weren’t trying to grapple with Great Ideas so much as to be clever and commercial and engaging. Which isn’t to say they didn’t use any of those 102 Great Ideas — practically all fiction does, with a list like that — just that they weren’t focused on it, so much.

    Has fantasy? I’d start there with A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and THE TEMPEST, because I don’t care if Wright has defined them out of genre; they’re fantasy.

    But mainly, I think his argument is so hideboundly elitist that he practically can’t conceive of anything not-sufficiently-old-enough joining the list of Great Works. And I think that’s a view all eaten up with the idea of man decaying from civilization’s great heights of yore, which is a view I have little patience with. It makes for cool-sounding nonsense, like all those fantasy novels that want to restore a monarchy, but it doesn’t admit to the idea of progress, just decay.

    Art is art. Its potential is undimmed even if we don’t wear togas and we do have electric toothbrushes and air conditioning. Virgil and Homer were not superhuman, and our potential isn’t any less than theirs. Great Works may not come along often, but their scarcity is due to greatness being scarce, not to mankind being dimmed and duller than once we were.

    That said, I agree that any definition of science fiction that excludes the foundational works of the genre and most of what people refer to when they use the term is a bad definition.

  21. Michael Eochaidh on July 21, 2015 at 7:50 pm said:

    @Camestros Felapton: Not so fast, my friend. What if I told you that “CJ Cherryh” has a silent and invisible “z” hidden inside? Would you change your vote then?

    That would just prove how deep the Zelaznoid conspiracy goes 🙂

  22. All of these choices are HARD.

    1. AZI AND THE ALLIANCE AGAINST THE ASPECTS OF THE ACCELERATIONISTS
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light
    Problematic, punny, and all, it opened my mind and sticks with me.

    2. THE SANDWORM SOLUTION
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)
    These stories age better, I think.

    3. GENIUS AI IN WINTERMUTE VS. GENLY AI ON WINTER
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness
    Another one that changed my mind’s life

    4. SHOWDOWN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
    … and I actually have to abstain, because I haven’t read them recently enough to compare.

  23. BBC list of great American films: the summary of SF/F genre works omits:

    87. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

    (which was a personal fave of mine. The story, for those who missed it, revolves around the erasure of unwanted memories, like last month’s romance.)

    (Citizen Kane. Why does it always have to be Citizen Kane on the top of these lists. Most boring famous movie I’ve watched. I’ve seen 52 of the listed titles.)

  24. In which there are no easy choices.
    1. AZI AND THE ALLIANCE AGAINST THE ASPECTS OF THE ACCELERATIONISTS
    C. J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light
    The Zelazny for expanding the boundaries of genre.

    2. THE SANDWORM SOLUTION
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)
    Frank Herbert: Dune
    Dune by the merest smidgen.

    3. GENIUS AI IN WINTERMUTE VS. GENLY AI ON WINTER
    William Gibson: Neuromancer
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness
    It might be a generational thing: I read Neuromancer at exactly the right age.

    4. SHOWDOWN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein
    The Shelley says more to me about what it means to be human.

    Observation: Down to the last eight and the gender ratio is 50:50.

  25. Ken Josenhans: Good catch. I have “Spotless” on the list now.

    Casablanca and Gone With The Wind sure have slipped from where I am used to seeing them.

  26. Jim: Right on about not engaging with sufficiently useless premises.

    I would start by not dismissing a century of literature that includes One Hundred Years Of Solitude, A Day In The Life Of Ivan Denisovitch, The Plague, The Sound And The Fury, Wise Blood, and so forth and so on. I mean, sure, there’s a test of time that’s never done, but there are assessments to be made along the way, too.

  27. Those who vote decide nothing; Those who count the vote decide everything.
    — Mahatma Ghandi

    1. AZI AND THE ALLIANCE AGAINST THE ASPECTS OF THE ACCELERATIONISTS
    C. J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light

    2. THE SANDWORM SOLUTION
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)
    Frank Herbert: Dune

    3. GENIUS AI IN WINTERMUTE VS. GENLY AI ON WINTER
    William Gibson: Neuromancer
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    4. SHOWDOWN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

  28. Frank Norris’s McTeague is inarguably great literature. It even has an 1899 pub date, thus missing the Oily One’s 20th-century cutoff. It’s also arguably a Western. It’s certainly one at the book’s end.

    I think “Great Literature” is a thing, though I wouldn’t trust Wright to identify it. And I happen to agree that none of the books on the Baen List that I’ve read count as “Great Literature.” But the Baen list is itself very dated. (Citizen of the Galaxy? Seriously? And did Baen stop reading in 1964?) Posterity – and the Library of America – has been very kind to Philip K. Dick, and pre-Posterity is quite taken with LeGuin. To name just two. I don’t know what Mortimer Adler – Wright’s ghostwriter here – would make of them, but “the critics of the next generation and the schoolmasters of posterity” seem to be down with it.

  29. 1. Lord of Light
    2. Abstain (not having read the Tiptree)
    3. Left Hand of Darkness
    4. Abstain (haven’t actually read either one)

  30. 1. AZI AND THE ALLIANCE AGAINST THE ASPECTS OF THE ACCELERATIONISTS
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light

    2. THE SANDWORM SOLUTION
    Frank Herbert: Dune

    3. GENIUS AI IN WINTERMUTE VS. GENLY AI ON WINTER
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    4. SHOWDOWN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

  31. Here are my votes for Round 3:

    1. AZI AND THE ALLIANCE AGAINST THE ASPECTS OF THE ACCELERATIONISTS
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light

    2. THE SANDWORM SOLUTION
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)

    3. GENIUS AI IN WINTERMUTE VS. GENLY AI ON WINTER
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    4. SHOWDOWN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

  32. @Kurt: McTeague is great. It suffers from some anti-Semitism a given reader will either be able and willing to bracket or not. But the passages with the dogs are brilliant – he gets behind the surface to genuine ethological insight and then gives it symbolic heft.

  33. So I will NOT miss the Bracket(t) again:

    1. Cherryh.
    2. Tiptree.
    3. Grrrr. Gibson.
    4. Shelley in a squeaker.

  34. Regarding SF and Great Literature. I recall waaaaay back when Judy Merrill was reviewing for F&SF (1965-1969) that SF has yet to even have a Christopher Marlowe, much less a Shakespeare.

    Anyway, everyone has a 10%.

  35. I would submit Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun series as a ‘great lit’ candidate, although it’s so firmly embedded in an sf and fantasy framework that a huge swathe of mainstream readers probably wouldn’t be able to make heads or tails of it. I’ve met a surprising number of people whose background and mental acuity as readers fail them when faced with science fictional concepts and language, and Wolfe is wonderfully elusive and downright esoteric in his approach to world-building, far moreso than most sf writers. So it would be the sort of literature that excludes a part of its potential audience.

  36. 3. GENIUS AI IN WINTERMUTE VS. GENLY AI ON WINTER
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    4. SHOWDOWN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

  37. Two brackets where I’ve only read one combatant (contestant?).

    The others are:

    3 LeGuin
    4 Shelley

    And a note that Neuromancer has a great opening sentence … which means something different these days. Dead channels are blue now, right?

  38. (Citizen Kane. Why does it always have to be Citizen Kane on the top of these lists. Most boring famous movie I’ve watched. I’ve seen 52 of the listed titles.)

    If only instead of a sled there had been a small telescope, or even a model electric submarine or space cannon.

  39. To Bruce Baugh: thanks for your input on the Humble Bundle the other day. I had a quick flick through some of the collections yesterday, including the first few in Help Fund My Robot Army and so far they’re great! The narrator of that first story reminded me of a certain somebody who’s been making waves recently. If his dickery didn’t pre-date the story by years, I’d swear he’d used it as a template for his own evil genius masterplan (except, in fairness, at least taking over the world is significantly more ambitious than his piddling around.)

    So far I think my favourite (having only read the first few) is the one about the SpoilerFree device, although MRK’s was pretty damn good too, as it happens.

    I think Nightmare may be a magazine I now have to subscribe to, having read a total of one story so far from it – “The Cellar Dweller” – and John Joseph Adams goes on my list of editors/anthologists to keep an eye on, based on this and Help Fund My Robot Army

    The Steampunk collection seems interesting, and there are a few names in there that I’ve been meaning to check out too (including BS – morbid curiosity, sorry!)

  40. curious reader:

    I would submit Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun series as a ‘great lit’ candidate…wonderfully elusive and downright esoteric…the sort of literature that excludes a part of its potential audience.

    In his Forward to Between Light and Shadow, Wright said:

    My wife introduced herself to Wolfe (the man, not the work) at a convention that same year. Enthused, blushing and bubbling, she told him that she had read the four books of the New Sun in the space of five days (Urth of the New Sun had not yet been printed.) She meant it as flattery, saying that the words were so absorbing that she had hardly paused for rest or food at any point on Severian’s journey.

    But the cunning old wolf smiled wryly, seeing the jest, and observed that it had taken him five long years to write what she consumed in five short days. The great question is determining what these symbols mean in and of themselves.

  41. 4) Frankenstein by a hair – possibly because I’ve read it several times (for fun, for uni, for fun again) as opposed to War of the Worlds where I’ve only read the actual story once and experienced it more through its various adaptations.

    I feel like I should lend my support to 3) Left Hand of Darkness (Le Guin at her best), 2) Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (there are too many great and varied stories in here, and I felt torn about voting for Banks in the previous round) and 1) Lord of Light (again, just completely mind-blowing and different to your run-of-the-mill western-mythology-based fantasy/sci-fi, and great fun, too!)

    But feel free to discard my votes for these ones as I’ve only read parts of their opposing novels, or different novels by the same author.

  42. 1. AZI AND THE ALLIANCE AGAINST THE ASPECTS OF THE ACCELERATIONISTS
    C. J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station
    Roger Zelazny: Lord of Light

    Cherryh finally falls. It’s not Chanur Saga.

    2. THE SANDWORM SOLUTION
    James Tiptree Jr.: Her Smoke Rose Up Forever (collection of stories)
    Frank Herbert: Dune

    Dune. Always seal your suit.

    3. GENIUS AI IN WINTERMUTE VS. GENLY AI ON WINTER
    William Gibson: Neuromancer
    Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness

    Gibson can not withstand Le Guin. And it was not the best choice for cyberpunk.

    4. SHOWDOWN IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
    H. G. Wells: War of the Worlds
    Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

    Wells put up a valiant fight but he is no match for the living Adam.

  43. Bruce, yes, but I need to save some money for my Japan trip! (If only because I’m dead set on visiting the eight floor Kinokuniya in Shinjuku and filling my luggage with Japanese-language children’s books and manga!)

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