Talking About SF 9/5

The conversation keeps flowing.

Meantime, in the American Library Association’s post about the 100 most frequently challenged books by decade is illustrated with this stack of books — John King Tarpinian invites you to see which sf novel stands out most prominently.

Stack of banned books

Discover more from File 770

Subscribe to get the latest posts to your email.

172 thoughts on “Talking About SF 9/5

  1. John Mark Ockerbloom on September 5, 2016 at 5:15 pm said:

    “I’m just going to polish up a pitch for Romeo and Juliet … as a police procedural, and see if it flies.”

    One of the pleasures of Ryan North’s recent choose-your-own-storyline _Romeo and/or Juliet_ is finding a a noir detective coda in one of the paths, where a character you’ve heard of (but not yet seen) comes in after the star-crossed lovers have met their fate, and tries to put together what *really* happened. It’s silly, but it works. (And it made me go back to the play and check what we actually see, and aren’t simply told, of Mercutio.)

    I’ve only read parts because I’ve bought it as a gift for somebody else but I was impressed with it – particularly the Midsummer Night’s Dream side quest.

  2. Chip Hitchcock:
    One 1920s author may have been skeptical. In one of Dashiell Hammett’s stories, a character’s murder ends up with nobody to accuse of it, and it apparently turns out (apparently because nobody is alive to confirm it) that someone was trying to build up an immunity to a poison in order to kill someone else, but the trick didn’t work, and they only poisoned their own self. Staying vague in lieu of spoiler by title or other distinguishing feature.
    My recent readings of Christie have been somewhat unsatisfactory. I used to devour her stories, but now they seem kind of pat, and things that would have passed unnoticed at the time stick out at me (not unlike, say, one of James Nicoll’s student reviewers looking at 50s SF). I don’t blame her for being of her time, but I don’t seem to be able to overlook it enough. I still re-read And Then There Were None from time to time, and I like it about as much as ever, though I no longer think it’s the greatest mystery ever written. It’s still good enough, anyway! I played Wargrave once, and it was some of the most fun I’ve had on a stage.

  3. Paul Weimer:
    Lucky soul, you’ve somehow triggered one of my greatest hits, as it were:

    For long and weary hours, I bored myself
    Counting the old, tired webs of spiders
    In my narrow office. Just then I heard
    A ringing sound from the bell out front,
    And in my dismal garrett I beheld
    A wench who made a good first impression
    To my eyes. Her face, I thought could launch,
    A thousand or so ships, her eyes burn down
    A hell of a lot of topless towers.
    I took in her form and her tear-streaked face
    She beseechingly asked, “Mister Marlowe?
    I’m in trouble. They told me you could help.”

    (Christopher Marlowe, _The Tragedy of The Great Slumber_, act I)

    Originally from RASFF in 2003, and promoted to Making Light some time after. Be gentle with it: I’ve learned more about meter since then.

  4. @Joe Hill (I first typed Joe Jill, Noe I may never remember your name correctly O_o )

    re: Jo Clayton ebooks. SQUEEEEEEEEEEE! Diiaaademmmmm!!!!!

    Wait. On more sober consideration…has anyone reread them recently? Has the Suck Fairy waved their wand too close to these books, too?

    I have almost all her books, but the paperbacks are so fragile I haven’t opened them for over a decade. I was recently thinking of sending them off to one of those scanning places that digitize your books, but destroy them in the process. I just couldn’t face the thought of their destruction. :-[ ::sob::

  5. I’m just going to polish up a pitch for Romeo and Juliet … as a police procedural, and see if it flies.

    Turning ROMEO & JULIET into a police procedural is kind of a snap. The Montagues are a cop family, the Capulets are a crime family, bam.

    Mercutio would turn out popular enough that the network wouldn’t let you kill him, though. Maybe he goes undercover.

  6. @cliff: Thanks for the comment about Beacon 23; I read some pretty mixed reviews, especially regarding the very end. Then I read it was originally serialized, which methinks is good to know going in – and made me wonder whether the last few pages were added for the fix-up. Anyway, it’s on my “think about it” list.

    @Lis Carey: ::sending extra light from my house:: I look forward to what you think of Forsaken Skies. 🙂

  7. Re. Camelot: I saw a comment imagining Mordred as an evil graffiti artist who covers Art’s art with stencils.

    I wonder who Merlin will be.

  8. I am pleased to have read in another comment thread that Mike comes home from his hospital tomorrow as I write this. That is a fine thing.

    Mike, continued wishes for improvement in your health. Many of us are now “of an age” and the flies are dropping; it’s good that you aren’t one of them at present.

    Next year in Luna City.

  9. I’ve been dipping into my Christies here and there–just finished “Elephants Can Remember’ and have “The 4:50 from Paddington” on the stand. I’d always enjoyed them but now find that I prefer to re-read Patricia Wentworth’s Miss Silver books.
    Which is funny because years ago I remember picking one up and deciding I wouldn’t care for it because of the cover which was done in a Gothic woman-fleeing-a-mysterious-mansion style. Complete with over-done prose on the back. Which I later found out was not accurate at all.

  10. junego asked re: Jo Clayton ebooks. SQUEEEEEEEEEEE! Diiaaademmmmm!!!!!
    Wait. On more sober consideration…has anyone reread them recently?

    I re-read the Diadem series last year and still liked them, well, except for the rapey parts. I always thought Clayton should get more credit for creating her universe.

  11. @Kendall
    Thx for the fixed link.

    @James Davis Nicoll & BGrandrath
    Thx for the reviews and the recaps. I didn’t remember it being so rapey, but I did remember the non consensual sex wasn’t celebrated or anything. Sounds like the SF probably hasn’t completely wrecked the books for me.

  12. @Chip Hitchcock

    I don’t think Brackett belongs on that list; IMO, she was writing pulp fiction (the sort even the Puppies might find retro?)

    I had never read any Brackett before this year’s Retro Hugo nominees, and I was struck by how similar her stories were to last years Puppy Hugo nominee Rajnar Vajra’s The Triple Sun: A Golden Age Tale, so I’d think they wouldn’t find it too retro.

  13. I’m now reminded of James Thurber’s “The Macbeth Murder Mystery” (where, IIRC, the solution is that Duncan was murdered by the Old Man from Act 2 scene 4, who is also one of the Three Witches in disguise), and Alan Coren’s “And Is There Magpie Still for Tea?” with the Eng.Lit. student who sees everything, including Hamlet, as a 1970s cop show.

  14. @Kip W – Well played. Now I must find a copy.

    Re Camelot – I don’t see how it could be worse than Second Chance or Shadowhunters. Then again, I was never a fan of any Arthurian tales with Lancelot.

  15. Kip W: Interesting to know (re doubt on poison immunity). I’ve never been a heavy Christie reader, but I remember A Murder Is Announced warmly; perhaps one too many di ex machina, but a key factor is the recognition that the cozy little world really was changed by World War II — no more “back to normalcy”.

  16. Doctor Science: If Merlin is the exact same individual as the original Merlin, but much younger, I shall be very pleased.

  17. Your latest convention scandal or “scandal”, depending on your thoughts about alleged PC oppression: cosplayers kicked out of Dragon*Con for dressing as the World Trade Center under attack. D*C chose to pull their badges after receiving complaints, but it turns out they may have been ghosting as well.

  18. Petréa Mitchell on September 6, 2016 at 6:13 am said:
    Your latest convention scandal (or “scandal”): cosplayers kicked out of Dragon*Con for dressing as the World Trade Center under attack. D*C chose to pull their badges after receiving complaints, but it turns out they may have been ghosting as well.

    I feel like there should be an angry reaction involving the words “special snowflakes”, “censorship”, “freedom of speech”, “oppression” etc.

  19. Police are investigating an alleged sexual assault at DragonCon:

    A convention attendee said in a Facebook post that she was in the thick of a Dragon Con parade crowd Saturday when she felt someone pressed up against her from behind and later realized it was a man’s exposed ———.

    The social media post is here, which includes photos of the alleged assailant. In an update she states that he’s been identified.

  20. Well I just had to buy 1177BC just now. I have long been intrigued by the Sea Peoples.

    On other things – I am really grateful this morning for my parents, for among other reasons that they never saw fit to censor what I was reading. For my dad it was simply that he wasn’t interested; he wasn’t a reader and didn’t quite get why I always had my nose in a book. Of course he never tried to stop me either. Occasionally he did shake his head at my bookshelves and ask if I really had read all that. He thought reading was a waste of time unless you were learning something practical from it. However he never cared one bit what I was reading or if it might not be suitable for his precious child, and he never limited my reading time.

    My mom loved and encouraged reading, and did nothing to filter my choice of materials. This led to me reading some very racy historical romance books with completely age-inappropriate sexytimes scenes because she thought ANY book was a good book to read. Back in the day I would scour the local thrift stores for cheap books and found some quite — diverse — reading material that way.

    What a blessing they were. I can barely compute parents trying to censor the reading choices of their kids or their kids’ classmates.

  21. Re the Omni list – I have some catching up to do but I’ve read part of it. I took on Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood some years back and recall it as arguably one of hardest, most mindbending and heartbreaking books I’d ever read.

  22. Your latest convention scandal: cosplayers kicked out of Dragon*Con for dressing as the World Trade Center under attack.

    Complete with dolls leaping from the windows. Classy. I look forward* to the vigorous defences of their free speech rights.

    *this is what is technically known as ‘a lie’.

    Steven Brust’s main series is based on an rpg. Same goes for Raymond E Feist.
    Also, I would follow Red Wombat on twitter just for the livetweets from their D&D campaign. I feel very sorry for her DM, they don’t so much think outside the box as origami fold it through 11 dimensions and hand it back as a live dormouse.

    ETA: the rpg talk is in a totally different thread, isn’t it? Nevermind!

  23. lurkertyep:

    What’s weird is how many of the banned books are also required reading. I guess that’s how the banninators come to find out about them.

    I suspect that in many cases ‘banned’ (though the official term used by the ALA is ‘challenged’) actually means that someone objected to their required or recommended status.

  24. Petréa Mitchell, I’m a little confused as to how the cosplayers’ badges could be pulled if they were ghosting (which, for those not familiar with convention jargon, means that they basically snuck in unpaid — they didn’t have badges in the first place).

    (I do agree that the costumes as described were in extremely poor taste, but I don’t know the terms of service of Dragon*Con, so I have no comment as to whether or not they should have been ejected if they did have badges. If they didn’t have badges, well, that’s a no-brainer regardless of their costumes.)

  25. Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen and co-DM Ian Esslemont’s books are based on their AD&D gameworld. I believe that Erikson actually gamed out sections of the series.

  26. @Rob

    I’d heard that too…and I have in turn borrowed bits from those novels for my own RPG games…(particularly the warrens)

  27. If we’re still talking Suchet’s Poirot, I’d say Dead Man’s Folly was also heavy and I felt the very ending seemed out of character. I think it was the last of the Poirot episodes to be filmed though not to be aired.

    In “Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design,” Greendale Community College’s drama club just did “a modern retelling of MacBeth set in gangster-era Chicago.” To which Jeff responds, as an aside to Annie, “And you call me lazy.”

  28. Re: Procedurals from unlikely material… I read in the Hollywood a Reporter that NBC has a show in the works with a sexy contemporary procedural take on Oliver Twist to be called just “Twist,” where Twist is a woman who puts together a gang of shady types to take down big bad criminals. That would really make her a female version of Fagin with the Seven Samurai/Dirty Dozen/A Team/Leverage people, if you ask me, but nobody did.

  29. @Jack Lint: I’ve seen a Chicago gangster As You Like It and a Chicago gangster Merchant of Venice, but never a Chicago gangster Macbeth. Now I feel like I missed out.

  30. There’s Men of Respect (1990) which has a Macbeth plot and is set in the world of organized crime. Great cast, but it kinda died at the box office. Can you handle a character named Matt Duff?

  31. re Merlin – probably be a manic pixie dream girl, at a rough guess.

    The Atlanta thing at the parade – that’s pretty terrible, glad they caught the guy and hope there are enough witnesses to get a conviction.

    As for the costumes – very poor taste, it does sound liek they weren’t Dragon Con’ers though.

  32. JJ on September 6, 2016 at 1:43 am said:

    An asteroid has been named after Freddie Mercury.

    SPACE NAVIGATOR: Ahhhh we are going to crash into Mercury!
    SPACE CAPTAIN: Regular Mercury or Freddy Mercury?
    SPACE NAVIGATOR: It’s burnin’ through the sky at two hundred degrees and travellin’ at the speed of light and wants to make a supersonic man out of you!

  33. Christopher Walken is Lieutenant McDuff, the cop on the trail of Joe and Pat McBeth, the low-rent couple trying to run a fast-food restaurant in Scotland PA, which is the name of the movie. “Scotland PA,” I mean. It’s pretty good, in a down-and-dirty way, but it has Christopher Walken, so I’m not complaining.

    When the BBC did those short takes on Shakespeare about ten years ago, they also put their Macbeth in a restaurant, but actually in Scotland, not Pennsylvania, and a lot more upscale. I think James McAvoy was Macbeth, the chef who was told he was invincible till pigs fly.

    Much Ado was in a TV studio, Midsummer was in a theme park, and Shrew had a conservative MP matched up with a dissolute toff. I thought Macbeth was far and away the best of the four, though.

  34. Strange Brew is still the best take on Hamlet. I wonder if anyone still sells good Elsinore Beer – Biere shirts.

  35. Waiting For Godot as a procedural.

    Two auld fellas in the middle of nowhere.
    ‘Did ye do it?’
    ‘Do what?’
    ‘You know what!’
    ‘I know nothing!’
    ‘If you know nothing how’d’you know you didn’t do it?’
    ‘I didn’t say I didn’t do it!’
    ‘Do what?’
    ‘You know what!’
    ‘I know nothing!’
    Cont. ad infinitum.

  36. The Importance of Being Earnest as Major Crimes-style procedural.

    Provenza: “A handbag?”
    Flynn: “A handbag!”
    Tau: “A 2013 Gucci with the leather strap, sold only in three stores in the Greater LA area”
    Raider: “So, you lost a handbag? We may have found it.”
    Suspect: “I did it. You’re all too clever for me. I’ll plea it down to second degree handbaggery.”

  37. To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like criminal negligence!

  38. He’s a handsome young man who never seems to age.
    He’s a full-length oil painting by Basil Hallward who does age.
    Together they fight crime!

Comments are closed.