Friday, April 16, 2021

A wonderful new novel and author... and Hugo nominees! Science fiction momentum!

Amid a recent flurry of book announcements, none makes me prouder than this one by a new author, with possibly the best opening line I ever read! 

The Melody of Memory is a deeply moving SF coming-of-age novel about growing up amid war, plague and trauma... and ultimately prevailing... even over forces of oppression and obstinate history. Read the first chapter and see if you get hooked. I bet you will. 

Published by Ring of Fire Press, and accompanied by a book club discussion guide!   And watch the 45-second teaser.


== Hugo Nominees Announced ==


The Hugo Award nominees for 2021 have been announced, and will be awarded at the World Science Fiction Convention. DisConn III, will be held in Washington D.C. -- and has been rescheduled for December of 2021.


Nominees for Best Novel include Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, The City We Became, by N.K. Jemison, Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir, Network Effect by Martha Wells, Piranesi by Susanna Clarke, and The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal. See the full list of nominees for Best Novella, Best Novelette, Short Story and more. 


Congratulations to all.


== Theme Anthologies of SF... making points! ==


Another worthy new tome. Telling Stories: On Culturally Responsive Artificial Intelligence. This book offers: “perspectives on AI spanning five continents. Individually and together, they open the reader to a deeper conversation about cultural responsiveness at a time of rapid, often unilateral technological change... Authors from Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Rwanda, Sri Lanka, the United States, and elsewhere vividly recount the anticipated influences of AI on love, time, justice, identity, language, trust, and knowledge through the power of narrative.


Clarkesworld, the very with-it SF magazine/site/movement, has also been promoting the recent, welcome trend toward international diversity in our genre. I've been especially enjoying the short stories of the young Chinese rising science fiction star Xia Jia in her collection A Summer Beyond Your Reach which has a Kickstarter deserving widespread interest and support! Her tales -- translated lovingly by SF master Ken Liu -- are filled with fun speculation and (frankly) more verve-otimism than you normally get out of eastern SF. Think Black Mirror only without the dour predictability of always a downer. Instead... you won't know until each story finishes!


And speaking of diversity. Now available again!  War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches. The Martian Invasion! Accounts of the War of the Worlds as told from celebrity eyewitnesses all around the globe!  Jules Verne reports on the Martian attacks on Paris  Teddy Roosevelt, big game hunter, goes after the most dangerous game…from another world.  Mark Twain recounts the Martians on the Mississippi.  • Jack London fights the Martians in the Yukon.  Albert Einstein pits his great mind against the Martian overlords! And Sigmund Freud and Jack London… and… And guess who wrote the Verne one!


Et pour nos amis Francophonique... Je partage avec vous cette belle chronique Français "Galaxies" Numéro 70, du N° auquel j'ai participé!


== Cool things coming! ==


In my last science fiction roundup I linked you to my fun, recently revived YA adventure series through space and time, The David Brin's Out of Time series! We've just accepted a final manuscript from the first of several bright young authors for a re-start of the series.  And we are looking for more talented scriveners of exciting 60,000 word adventures through space and time, targeted for teens!  DIVERSITY especially welcome!

And that's just the tip of the iceberg for a surge of great new (and revived-old) sci fi! Those of you who sign up to receive it (at http://www.davidbrin.com) will receive my coming newsletter (just one-a-year!) with great word about the release of freshened (new covers and introductions and fixes) versions of all my Uplift Novels! Due out in May!

Oh, speaking of which sometimes folks do lovely fan tributes to that universe. Artworks, music... and fan fiction! Here's one of the latter, by Michael Halbrook, that really makes the grade, telling how one of Earthclan's enemies sends a scientist to our planet to examine whether clever birds, especially parrots, might show past signs of uplift. See The Gubru and the Parrot.


Heck, it's good enough to be called "canonical." So I hearby say "Yeah, that happened."


== Much stranger than sci fi ==


An interesting look at the early fifties, showing an amazing overlap between UFO stuff and the plague of McCarthyism. And it’s stunning how similar the meme plagues were, to today.


 “On any given night, viewers of the highest-rated show in the history of cable news, Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson Tonight, might find themselves treated to its namesake host discussing flying saucers and space aliens alongside election conspiracies and GOP talking points. Praise for former President Donald Trump, excuses for those involved in the Capitol assault, and criticism of racial and sexual minorities can sit seamlessly beside occasional interviews featuring UFO “experts” pleading conspiracy.


Recent segments found Carlson speculating that an art installation in Utah was the work of space aliens and interviewing a reporter from the Washington Examiner about whether UFOs can also travel underwater like submarines.”


Folks are surprised to learn my skepticism toward UFOs is not insular, but expansive! These flying saucer tales are just... so... damn... dumb!  I mean truly unimaginative, uninformed and dismally clichéd.


I know "aliens" as well as any human (outside the slim possibility of secret stuff going on... which I weigh in upon, in EXISTENCE!) And I sure as heck hope the universe is more interesting than the dullard poopy head 'visitors' portrayed in UFO lore!


77 comments:

Tim H. said...

I'd think a better UFO story would be an outpost of an alien civilization that's worked out how to make a living off-planet might sometimes send drones to see if they need to worry about the semi-evolved ape descendants yet. They won't come theirselves if they can help it, different life, it'd be unhealthy even if they could tolerate the gravity. Think Larry Niven's Chirpsithra.

David Brin said...

Tim H. We can be pretty well monitored from the asteroid belt.

Der Oger said...

" We can be pretty well monitored from the asteroid belt."

The question is:
Would it be an enviable and honorable position monitoring us?
Or would it be a dull and menial task, the important stuff leading to that civilizations honors happening elsewhere?

:-)

Daniel Duffy said...

We all know where those monoliths came from.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHWs3c3YNs4

Daniel Duffy said...

Speaking of Tucker Carlson et al, it seems that the GOP members of the house have started an American First caucus to support Anglo-Saxon values.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2021/04/16/marjorie-taylor-greene-forming-caucus-to-promote-anglo-saxon-political-traditions/?sh=730d3ee95672

As an Irish American I can only say that this really pisses me off.

Everyone knows that Celtic culture is far superior.

But I have to wonder if every meeting will open with a rousing chorus of the "Horst Wessel Lied".

Daniel Duffy said...

Trump and other nativists not withstanding, America remains open to immigrants (unlike, say Japan).

We need immigrants to grow our economy.

But Europe stopped having babies so these immigrants are not going to be white.

Hence the rise of Trumpism.

So there you have it.

America can either be an economically vibrant great power or it can be White.

It can't be both.

David Brin said...

I don't care about color. I do care about culture. Melting pot. Lived in UK and FRance where immigrants were NOT welcomed to 'melt" in. A calamity. If your kids are rambunctiously individualistic and admiring of eccentricity and inventiveness and tolerance and joyful competitive criticism, then welcome from Mars, for all I care.

Daniel Duffy said...

Could not agree more.

When the Irish came to America looking for work they read signs saying "Help Wanted - No Irish Need Apply".

The Irish in Britain looking for apartments to rent read signs saying "No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish"

If you get a chance, read "How the Irish Became White".

https://www.routledge.com/How-the-Irish-Became-White/Ignatiev/p/book/9780415963091

Something interesting is happening, something predicted back int he 1980s by the late Ben Wattenberg in his book "The First Universal Nation".

The fastest growing racial/ethnic census category according to the US census is "Mixed".

https://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/race/cb12-182.html

"The 2010 Census showed that people who reported multiple races grew by a larger percentage than those reporting a single race. According to the 2010 Census brief The Two or More Races Population: 2010, the population reporting multiple races (9.0 million) grew by 32.0 percent from 2000 to 2010, compared with those who reported a single race, which grew by 9.2 percent. Overall, the total U.S. population increased by 9.7 percent since 2000, however, many multiple-race groups increased by 50 percent or more. The first time in U.S. history that people were presented with the option to self-identify with more than one race came on the 2000 Census questionnaire. Therefore, the examination of data from the 2000 and 2010 censuses provides the first comparisons on multiple-race combinations in the United States. An effective way to compare the multiple-race data is to examine changes in specific combinations, such as white and black, white and Asian, or black and Asian. “These comparisons show substantial growth in the multiple-race population, providing detailed insights to how this population has grown and diversified over the past decade,” said Nicholas Jones, chief of the U.S. Census Bureau's Racial Statistics Branch."

From Ben Wattenberg:

"But while separatism may be trendy among foundation-supported "grass roots" advocacy groups, it is losing its war where it counts, between the sheets. The 1990 Census revealed that exogamy was booming. Just 13% of first generation Hispanics intermarry. The figure for second generation was 34%, and 54% for third generation. The corresponding rates for Asian Americans were 14%, 34% and 54%. About half of Jews intermarry. The black rates are much lower, but climbing rapidly. The final 2000 Census results will reveal this pattern more fully.

How to regard all this? With interest. Americans have had a tangled view of racial and ethnic skeins. Only a few decades ago the elimination of legal segregation was denounced by racists as a precursor to "mongrelization." But, when they're called "mutts,"Americans think mongrels are cute. When we hear that someone is "mean as a junkyard dog," we're not condemning dogs, junkyards or even meanness, only indicating that those half-breeds are plenty tough, maybe like Tiger and Derek.

From "The Melting Pot" to "Abie's Irish Rose," to "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," Americans have had a, uh, mixed attitude toward melting pottism. And we still do. Some Anglos fear that America will become "a third world nation." In a world where Indian techies are worth their weight in semi-conductors, not to worry. We're becoming the first universal nation.

The typical American 100 years from now will be 1/8 Icelandic, 1/8 Irish, 1/8 Italian, 1/8 Israeli, 1/8 Iranian, 1/8 Indian, 1/8 Ibo, and 1/8 Iroquois.

And that's just the "I"s.

scidata said...

Great to see the other Brin's first novel. Best wishes for literary success. I'm a very terrible reader so I can't offer much more. I did spend a few years exploring audiology, speech therapy, and music therapy (that's where my syntonicity obsession began) - powerful tools indeed. This new author may be onto something. Bon chance.

All these issues around identity politics and best practices for the general welfare have a simpler analog in the world of computation where I dwell. The quest for AI is a pocket version of the quest for utopia. I was going to say more about the M-5 previously, but the onward got me, so I'll discard all that and just leave one thing here.

I once had a great conversation with Peter Jennings, the creator of MicroChess and VisiCalc. That hour convinced me that trying to create a better Einstein in-silico is a fool's errand. It's much better to create a million Johnnies who can code. Even better if their myriad thought/code sequences can interact, compete, and evolve. Doctrine is the mind-killer. I mean that quite literally. Perhaps the real reason why Johnny can't code is that vast numbers of such computational thinkers might challenge powers' authority. Much safer to churn out cut & paste bot-boys.

Jon S. said...

Daniel & Dr. Brin:

That makes me think of a line from one of Niven's "Gil the ARM" stories, where a UN cop was described as "a walking recruiting poster, triracial and handsome as hell."

Our kids are only biracial, but my daughter could pass for Hispanic during the summertime (the boy gets way too dark for that). :)

Daniel Duffy said...

Jon S.

Hybrid vigor (heterosis) beats racial purity. Cross-breeding between different species or populations can cause “hybrid vigour”, or heterosis, resulting in offspring who are genetically fitter than their parents. It's most likely the cause of the Flynn Effect where average IQs have been increasing.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17638507/

Resolving the IQ paradox: heterosis as a cause of the Flynn effect and other trends
IQ test scores have risen steadily across the industrialized world ever since such tests were first widely administered, a phenomenon known as the Flynn effect. Although the effect was documented more than 2 decades ago, there is currently no generally agreed-on explanation for it. The author argues that the phenomenon heterosis represents the most likely cause. Heterosis, often referred to as hybrid vigor, is a genetic effect that results from matings between members of genetically distinct subpopulations, such as has been occurring in human populations through the breakup of small, relatively isolated communities owing to urbanization and greater population mobility.

Pure bred = inbred, just look at a typical member of any European Royal family, or most Trump supporters, or any overly purebred breed of dog (like German Shepherds with hip dysplasia). The best dog in the world is a mutt, and so is the best person.

Just ask Bill Murray: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8Q1fDf0GeY

"We're all very different people. We're not Watusi. We're not Spartans. We're Americans, with a capital 'A', huh? You know what that means? Do ya? That means that our forefathers were kicked out of every decent country in the world. We are the wretched refuse. We're the underdog. We're mutts! Here's proof: his nose is cold! But there's no animal that's more faithful, that's more loyal, more loveable than the mutt. Who saw "Old Yeller?" Who cried when Old Yeller got shot at the end?"

Ben Wattenberg noted back in the 80s that more Jewish Americans were marrying gentiles than other Jews. If current trends continue, by 2050 more African-Americans will be marry non-African Americans. You get rid of racism by getting rid of race. And if the future of America looks like Halle Berry or Rashida Jones, that is just something we'll have to deal with.

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:


The Irish in Britain looking for apartments to rent read signs saying "No Blacks, No Dogs, No Irish"


And those signs might as well have added " 'Pardon the redundancy' ".


From "The Melting Pot" to "Abie's Irish Rose," to "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," Americans have had a, uh, mixed attitude toward melting pottism.


That's true of sex, of course, but also of food. Even the staunchest of Nativists seems to be fine with Mexican restaurants, Japanese steakhouses, and pizza parlors as far as the eye can see ("It will be glorious!"). Back during the 2016 campaign, some Republican candidate for congress ran an ad fearmongering that if Democrats were elected, "there'll be a taco truck on every corner." My wife and I both though that was a good enough reason to vote for Democrats.

On our first trip to Europe together, we visited some "exotic" restaurants in Amsterdam (an Indian restaurant and a Middle Eastern one, IIRC), expecting to find them done better than we were used to in the States, (because, you know, that whole "Europeans know how it's done" mystique around style). Well, in this, we were sorely disappointed. We've had much better Indian and Middle Eastern food in Chicago than we found in Europe.


And we still do. Some Anglos fear that America will become "a third world nation." In a world where Indian techies are worth their weight in semi-conductors, not to worry. We're becoming the first universal nation.


I have to agree in full. The deplorables mistake "third world nation" status as correlating with skin color. The entire "first world" (and by now, much of the rest of it) looks as it does today because it looks like America. We're a memetic virus that has infected the planet. And the ones who insist on "Making America Great Again" want us to renounce all that and imitate our Old World antecedents, insisting on becoming just another stronghold of blood and soil?

To quote John Bohner: "Are you kidding me?"

Robert said...

The fastest growing racial/ethnic census category according to the US census is "Mixed".

That's partly an artifact of how America viewed race, though. A lot of "black" people are actually "mixed" because they had white ancestors (and a smaller number of "whites" turn out to have black ancestors when they get DNA tests, too).

If you counted every child born to a black slave with a white father as mixed, plus all their descendants, as "mixed" I really think that category would outnumber "black".

My grandnieces have ancestries that would give Marjorie Taylor Greene and her ilk apoplexy: black, white, Jewish, Chinese…. but they're far smarter (and cuter) and way better people than she'll ever be — because they don't care about skin pigmentation.

Pappenheimer said...

In Niven's "Known Space" 'verse, IIRC, Earth's population was homogenized to the point where you could rarely spot an unmixed racial phenotype; these were only common on colony worlds due to the limited genetic range of the original colonists. His viewpoint characters did not have any hissy fits over this. It's a safe prediction for a planet that has a world government and a teleportation booth network. ("Hey, let's take this party from Hong Kong to Helsinki!")

Niven himself, I later found out, supported anti-immigrant policies in the US. I am not sure what to make of that.

David Brin said...

The most wowzer cross-breeding? Dutch-Indonesian. The women are... woof. For males? Black+Samoan made The Rock. Though a similar mix was Tiger Woods, just okay....

Robert said...

Niven himself, I later found out, supported anti-immigrant policies in the US. I am not sure what to make of that.

He hung around with Pournelle, who was pretty far right. Could that be part of it – the people he socialized with? Look at The Burning City to see another side of Niven…

I'm also reminded of how Heinlein's views shifted over his life, apparently strongly influenced by his wife.

Robert said...

Sorry David, but my nieces are way more gorgeous. I've got 14, so that makes me an expert :-)

Jon S. said...

"Niven himself, I later found out, supported anti-immigrant policies in the US. I am not sure what to make of that."

Yeah, he got weirder as he got older. Pity.

Larry Hart said...

Pappenheimer:

In Niven's "Known Space" 'verse, IIRC, Earth's population was homogenized to the point where you could rarely spot an unmixed racial phenotype; these were only common on colony worlds due to the limited genetic range of the original colonists.
...
Niven himself, I later found out, supported anti-immigrant policies in the US. I am not sure what to make of that.


It's possible he included that predictive detail about a homogeneous humanity as inevitable, but not desirable. A warning of the type, "If current trends continue, this is what humanity will be like."

Arthur Clarke's Imperial Earth novel went many chapters in before offhand revealing that the protagonist, a Titan resident (named Duncan Makenzie no less)--was dark skinned, and in fact a good deal darker than the typical black person on earth. IIRC, earth people weren't completely homogenized, but were well on their way in that direction. I read the book more than once before understanding how this point is crucial to understanding the significance of the final scene, which I won't spoil.

* * *

Daniel Duffy:

Ben Wattenberg noted back in the 80s that more Jewish Americans were marrying gentiles than other Jews.


And here I thought I was trendy. :)

Actually, I was the last of my immediate family (a brother and three cousins) to marry non-Jews. A Jewish friend who had just broken up with his Jewish girlfriend once asked me wryly why Jewish men seem to have better relationships with non-Jewish women. He was expecting an answer along the lines of "Jewish princesses are too stuck up," but he liked my actual answer--from personal experience--better. Mixed relationships force the couple to get the "How do we handle religion?" questions out in the open well before they get to the point of marriage. In many cases, one converts to the other's religion. In my own case, we both decided that marriage doesn't make religion any more important in our lives than it was before, which was "not important at all." With same-religion marriage, the role of religion in the couple's life might be (mistakenly) assumed. If the two participants are far apart in how they want religion to play a part of their lives, they may not discover that fact until a break up is much more traumatic or (if they've reproduced) impossible.

None of my immediate family's marriages has broken up, BTW, although one tragically ended with a premature "death do us part".

Pappenheimer said...

Dr. Brin,

Your last comment sparked an argument in my household.

My (Germanic-lineage) wife insists that the perception that Eurasian women are sexy is tied into the "submissive Asian women" meme.

I disagreed, stating that the Eurasian women I've met weren't exactly submissive, but that the mix of exotic and familiar does lend a sexy aura.

I also noted that she is fond of watching Jason Momoa on TV, who is Hawaiian/German/Irish/Native American.

So...yeah.

David Brin said...

With all due resepect and reverence for your wife, oh Doc Pappenheimer, and making no character judgement and speakin g only to the assertion itself... bull!

My 1st girlfriends were Japanese Americans and highly in-yer-face.

Robert said...

My (Germanic-lineage) wife insists that the perception that Eurasian women are sexy is tied into the "submissive Asian women" meme.

That seems to be a prejudice held by those who don't actually know any Asian women.

I know a dozen couples who are Asian-female/Caucasian-male, and none of the wives are in the least submissive. Also true in the Asian-Asian couples I know — including those who live in Asia.

I wonder how much of that idea is white men annoyed that women are demanding to be considered equals and fantasizing about a group where they wouldn't have to do that…

Larry Hart said...

Robert:

That seems to be a prejudice held by those who don't actually know any Asian women.


Possibly held by those whose only image of Asian women is those who are sold as "brides" on line.


I wonder how much of that idea is white men annoyed that women are demanding to be considered equals and fantasizing about a group where they wouldn't have to do that


I'd consider that so obvious as to be self-evident.

Dr Brin:

With all due resepect and reverence for your wife, oh Doc Pappenheimer, and making no character judgement and speakin g only to the assertion itself... bull!

My 1st girlfriends were Japanese Americans and highly in-yer-face.


With all due resepect and reverence, oh Doc Brin, (and channeling the Black Fuhrer from Mother Night), who ever told you that a Japanese woman is a "Eurasian"?

Pappenheimer said...

I need to clarify that my wife does not think Asian women are meek, just that the meme is part of the mystique

David Brin said...

"who ever told you that a Japanese woman is a "Eurasian"?"

Oy, going THERE? Jeez who has a more submissive (unfair) stereotype than them?

Been watching the Hilary Swank Mars expedition TV show AWAY that did not get a 2nd season. A pity. Though melodramatic/// and the science in episode 9 sucked beyond any conceivable need of plot. Worth a look. Esp for the interesting portrayal of international members of the crew, esp the Chinese taikonaut woman.

David Brin said...

Not all "memes" have even a grain of truth, as we've seen on the US right. This one reeks of rationalization. A just-so story.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

Jeez who has a more submissive (unfair) stereotype than them [Japanese women]?


Yes, but even so, it's different over here.

My mom used to teach English as a second language to adults, and she interacted with people from many different cultures. She knew at least one Japanese woman who was in the states because of her husband's work, and would eventually have to go back to Japan, and was dreading the loss of the freedoms she had here. The same with some Indian women IIRC. Point being, some of what they have to accept at home is culturally enforced, and when they're out from under, they're just like any other women in America. And happy to be so.

Larry Hart said...

Me to Daniel Duffy (redux) :

"From "The Melting Pot" to "Abie's Irish Rose," to "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," Americans have had a, uh, mixed attitude toward melting pottism."


That's true of sex, of course, but also of food.


Now that I think about it, even more true of drinks. Even during the height of the cold war,I don't remember anyone in America repudiating vodka. The "Romulan ale" scene in Wrath of Khan comes to mind as an illustration.

toduro said...

Re vodka, my John Birch Society member mother's fave adult beverage was the Vodka Gimlet.

Alfred Differ said...

Eurasian woman? Is that a euphemism?
That’s a LOT of land to cover. What am I supposed to be thinking here?

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Eurasian woman? Is that a euphemism?
That’s a LOT of land to cover. What am I supposed to be thinking here?


Melania Trump.

David Brin said...

Well, we're into pretty silly stuff now, folks. Keep it up and we may descend down to internet-normal! ;-)

scidata said...

Encouraging -
Martian helicopter flies
Courts continue to reject conspiracy madness
April ACM issue is 176 pages
It appears to be a new golden age for SF


David Brin said...

Link to that ACM issue?

scidata said...

General website
https://cacm.acm.org/


I'm actually holding a paper copy in my hands, which is why I noticed its heft.

David Brin said...

You say there's sci fi in this ACM issue? Or was that about the 'reachy" articles? I had an interview in ACM about Resilience, last year.

scidata said...

Re: Sci Fi

No, I wasn't saying there's SF in this month's ACM. Those were two entirely different bullet points. I used to try to pretty format such lists, but Blogger smunches everything so there's no point.

Daniel Duffy said...

If we can talk about writing in general, not just SF....

I highly recommend the PBS series on Hemmingway. America's greatest author, macho manly man, horrible human being and even worst husband. Hobbies included: war, big game hunting, deep sea fishing, bull fighting, abusing and cheating on those who loved him.

He had a list of 4 things you had to do to be a man: 1. Write a novel (not a novel but over 200 articles to my credit), 2. Plant a tree (about a dozen of them), 3. Raise a son (2 of them), 4. Fight a bull (well .... 3 out of 4 ain't bad).

https://www.pbs.org/kenburns/hemingway/?fbclid=IwAR1e44gvl5nTnXFoyn6L8uzhKsbGLE5J8eEk-mwtSvy4xkgU81-WUibqZeA

Favorite quote: “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms

So do we live in an emasculated culture and should we be reading Hemmingway and watching reruns of "Fight Club" to counteract this culture?

David Brin said...

SorryDD, but Robert Heinlein was a better man in every way and a more visionary writer, whose generalist "to be a human" advice is vastly better. Yes, Hemingway turned out some good passages and phrases, some of them real stand-outs. Though I have a couple dozen I rank as reliably better. And some of his most-touted passages are, well... over-rated.

scidata said...

A favourite pic is the one of Heinlein, De Camp, and Asimov together in 1944.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L._Sprague_de_Camp#/media/File:Heinlein-decamp-and-asimov.jpg

Daniel Duffy said...

Sorry Dr. Brin, but if this was the 19th century I'd have to challenge you to a duel.

Nobody writes like Hemmingway. If the whole point of being a writer is to get as much thought into as few words as possible, Hemmingway remain our greatest writer by the metric alone.

Where do I find a bull to fight? What would be a good substitute (volunteer fireman?).

Daniel Duffy said...

You are light about Heinlein's advice:

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

But he got into some weird stuff both in his personal life and his writing especially near the end, and his last few books I simply could not finish.

Even bad Hemmingway was better than most Heinlein.

David Brin said...

It saddened Heinlein DeCamp got to be a Navy lieutenant, the job RAH had trained for and wanted badly.

TCB said...

From what I hear, Alexandre Dumas was like a nicer version of Hemingway.

Larry Hart said...

@Daniel Duffy re: Hemingway

You don't know what a can of worms you've opened up to a reader of Dave Sim's Cerebus comic. He devoted a whole trade paperback's worth ("Form And Void") to what was meant to be a homage to Hemingway but turned into a takedown of Hemingway.


if this was the 19th century I'd have to challenge you to a duel.


According to Sim, Hemingway lost whatever honor he had when he refused to defend Mary's honor in a duel.

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

Nobody writes like Hemmingway. If the whole point of being a writer is to get as much thought into as few words as possible, Hemmingway remain our greatest writer by the metric alone.


I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or serious. :)

Dave Sim, channeling (I believe) Truman Capote referred to what Hemingway did as "typing", as opposed to "writing".

Robert said...

From what I hear, Alexandre Dumas was like a nicer version of Hemingway.

Fascinating father, though. Read The Black Count by Tom Reiss, which won the Pulitzer in 2013.

https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/140278/the-black-count-by-tom-reiss/

scidata said...

Re: that three amigos pic and computational thinking

Knights of skeptical optimism. Fascism never stood a chance. And that's only part of the story. Across the pond, at Bletchley Park, the Third Reich's fate had already been sealed. Computation is the modern equivalent of fire.

Communications of the ACM is the de facto voice of computational science & technology. It's older than I am (1958). Circa 1978-1983, Byte was that voice. Halcyon glory days indeed. The notion of building our own Intelligence Amplifier shaped many of us. IMHO, the promises of flight, atomics, genetics, and other wonders of the 20th century pale in comparison. Alas, what began as flowing Promethean locks in silicon degenerated into shorn inanity on Fox :) This is why we can't have nice things.

Pappenheimer said...

I've enjoyed reading DeCamp, Heinlein and Asimov, but the more I peer behind the curtain into an author's personal life, the more I wish I hadn't. So I don't anymore.

Your secret flaws are safe from me Dr. Brin

David Brin said...

Pappenhaimer, my boringly monogamous flaws are exactly those that bring you back here. Opinionated pontification, moderated by a sense of humor. Obsessive contrarianism, moderated by committment to core enlightenment values. A reflex that favors self-expression (sometimes impulsive) over my loving-chiding wife's recommendation of habitual discretion. Frequent (I think unfair) accusations that I must be the smartest person in any room... disproved by the countless times I have joyfully ceded that role... but certainly that's the impression I have left as a foul taste in the mouths of many who have recited that "Brin is..." calumny.

Hemingway-level "interesting quirks"? Alas.... Zzzzzzzz

matthew said...

Accountability at last! Accountability at last! Thank the gods we have accountability at last!

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/live/2021/apr/20/derek-chauvin-verdict-trial-jury-returns-george-floyd-death

Slim Moldie said...

IF you want interesting quirks in a writer, Harry Crews tops my list. I've never thought of comparing him to Hemingway before, but it would make an interesting Literature course exploring macho man identity and masculinity via the works of those two authors. If you've never read the former, Knockout Artist, All We Need of Hell, Gypsies Curse and his auto-biography are where he was at his best.

Daniel Duffy said...

Larry -

"Brevity is the soul of wit."

Edward Everett, the featured speaker at the dedication ceremony of the National Cemetery of Gettysburg, later wrote to Lincoln, "I wish that I could flatter myself that I had come as near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes."

"Let thy speech be short, comprehending much in a few words."

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication". ~Leonardo da Vinci

"The most important lesson in the writing trade is that any manuscript is improved if you cut away the fat." ~Robert Heinlein

"The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do." ~Thomas Jefferson

Hemingway was contemptuous of writers who, as he put it, “never learned how to say no to a typewriter.” In a 1945 letter to his editor, Maxwell Perkins, Hemingway writes: "It wasn’t by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics."

Daniel Duffy said...

Dr. Brin - "Sorry DD, but Robert Heinlein was a better man in every way"

There are lots of really great artists who were really horrible people.

And that raises a question: In today's woke/cancel culture should we differentiate the man from the art ignoring the former in favor of the later, make excuses for the man because of his great art, or denigrate/ban his art because of his horrible character?

Pete Townsend was allegedly caught red handed with illegal photos.

Should we stop listening to Tommy or Quadrophenia?

John "give peace a chance" Lennon was a allegedly a terrible abuser of his wives and girl friends ("I used to be cruel to my woman I beat her and kept her apart from the things that she loved").

Do we stop listening to Sgt. Pepper and the White Album?

Kevin Spacey was allegedly horrible on so many levels, but remains a great actor.

Then there is art that reflects no longer acceptable social mores and assumptions.

Gone with the Wind remains a great movie and it so unacceptable today on multiple levels.

Could Mel Brooks ever make Blazing Saddles in todays environment? Or Young Frankenstein where Madilyn Khan lets the Monster have his way with her because he's ... monstrous? Is either film no longer funny?

And what about deliberate propaganda for horrible regimes that is still technically great art?

Birth of a Nation, a movie that created most of the techniques still being used by directors today.

Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia is stunning cinema in the service of Nazism, like DW Griffith she pioneered techniques sill used by directors and documentarians.

Battleship Potemkin with its famous baby carriage rolling down the Odessa steps is iconic, yet its purpose was to glorify a murderous Leninist/Stalinist regime (the Ukraine famine was just starting when it was in theaters).

Do all these movies get banned?

How do we navigate our way through these issues?

David Brin said...

One of the finest of all museum's is Picasso's in Paris, where you stroll through all his periods... and the paintings are matched by photos of his women and tales of their sufferings...

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

Could Mel Brooks ever make Blazing Saddles in todays environment?


I've thought about that very example myself. "No one makes a move, or the N***** gets it!" is a funny line, but it couldn't be used today. Nor, "Ok, we'll take the n*****s and the ch***ks, but we don't want the Irish!" Even though each line was making fun of racism, not encouraging it.


Is either film no longer funny?


That probably depends to some extent on when one was first exposed to the film. Blazing Saddles came out when I was 12 years old. Animal House when I was a freshman in college. In both cases, I was probably the exact target age for the experience. I doubt I would find either one as engaging if I saw them for the first time today.


Do all these movies get banned?

How do we navigate our way through these issues?


I'm not for banning, although I might shun some myself. Which particular ones? Up to personal taste and probably no good solid rule for the general case.

After just recently hearing that Breakfast at Tiffany's was on the "cancel" list. I became curious as to just why that would be, and luckily the movie was available on DVD at my library. Ok, seeing Mickey Rooney's portrayal of a Japanese caricature--"character" is really too charitable a word--I can understand why the movie is embarrassing or offensive to some. Nevertheless, I'm glad I had a chance to see the film as a whole.

There's a difference between public and private experiences. I can see why some of the movies you listed aren't welcome in polite company any more, but I don't think individuals or groups of consenting individuals should be prevented from privately viewing them. I'll add Woody Allen to the list. Yes, Manhattan is creepy in light of more recent revelations, but The Front is still resonant with today's headlines, and Crimes and Misdemeanors stands as a film which rips the mask off of conventional Hollywood expectations of morality.

Alfred Differ said...

Larry,

Thanks. Surgically adjusted member of some Balkan tribe. Got it.


scidata,

This is why we can't have nice things.

Heh. Nonsense. Printing presses caused similar disruption involving wars of/rationalized-as religion, Inquisition, and Schism, but eventually helped give birth to Liberalism.

We can have nice things. We just have to figure out how to pluck them from the fire hose stream pouring forth all the other stuff too.


David,

my loving-chiding wife's recommendation of habitual discretion

Now I've got an image stuck in my head of her floating by muse-like in the background whispering "Decorum".

Heh. If only more of us listened to the muse who helps us find time to be creative. 8)

Daniel Duffy said...

Larry an even worse movie than Animal House by today's standards is Revenge of the Nerds.

Both movies present illegal acts and felonies as light hearted hijinks.

Paul451 said...

scidata,
"This is why we can't have nice things."
Alfred Differ,
"Heh. Nonsense. Printing presses caused similar disruption involving wars of/rationalized-as religion, Inquisition, and Schism, but eventually helped give birth to Liberalism."

Yeah, but that doesn't mean I shouldn't be upset about being in the Inquisition part of history.

Larry Hart said...

Alfred Differ:

Heh. If only more of us listened to the muse who helps us find time to be creative. 8)


Oscar Wilde once said something to the effect of, "Women inspire men to do great things, and then prevent them from doing them."

More appropriately in my own case, "Women inspire men to lose weight and then prevent us from doing so."

Jon S. said...

Young Frankenstein would, I think, have no issues even were it made today - the Monster didn't force himself on Madeline, she merely learned how, er, monstrous he was, and what followed was a matter of mutual consent.

(I also don't find Blazing Saddles in any way objectionable, but that may have something to do with awareness of historical context, both in terms of the Old West setting and in terms of America during the time of the film's production. And in my opinion, the humor still holds up - hell, Jim's advice to Bart is one of the more common memes I've seen on Twitter. "You have to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the New West. You know - morons.")

Unknown said...

Dogmatic Wokeness is too young to have discovered forbearance. This is one of its largest flaws. Luckily, wokeness in practice gets tempered somewhat. Each person has his or her own guilty pleasures (I still love to read John Muir and I was quite sad when Louie CK's show got taken off Netflix), so any self-reflecting person rightly realizes that you can take the good without the bad. The more creative people's flaws are exposed, the easier it is to justify tolerance of flaws, unless you want to live in a box devoid of stimulus.

Forbearance is Wendell Berry's favorite virtue.

Tim H. said...

@Unknown, wokeness can be a PITA, but the core of it looks to be "Don't be a jerk", which is a sentiment I can respect.

matthew said...

Regarding Blazing Saddles, remember that Richard Pryor was co-writer and co-producer of the movie (would have been the star, too, but his studio said no).
Mel Brooks was always afraid that they were pushing the envelope of satire *too* far, and Richard insisted that they keep on pushing it even farther.
He also gave the actor that played the old woman a written permission note to use the N word after she objected to having to say it - she was an early civil / equality rights activist and was very worried about how her role would be received. Richard kept making the point that the satire would *help* move the cultural needle toward justice and compassion. I suspect he was correct.
I still find it very deeply funny.

David Brin said...

Terrific (!) story re Richard Pryor... and especially the "written permission." I love that! Thanks Matthew!

Larry Hart said...

Jon S:

I also don't find Blazing Saddles in any way objectionable...


I don't either, but if it were to be made today, I think it would be self-censored quite a bit. I'm not saying that's a good thing--just the way things are.

I didn't find Breakfast at Tiffany's objectionable either, but I can see how some would. I also can't explain a hard and fast rule concerning my own value judgements in this area. Why am I ok watching old Woody Allen movies, but not old Mel Gibson movies? Heck if I know.

Larry Hart said...

matthew:

Regarding Blazing Saddles, remember that Richard Pryor was co-writer and co-producer of the movie (would have been the star, too, but his studio said no).


Richard Pryor played alongside Gene Wilder a few years later in Silver Streak.

David Brin said...

Marx Bros. A DAY AT THE RACES was banned by southern states as Negro Loving... and today seems horrifically cringeworthy. So many examples. Look up THE NEGRO SOLDIER... a WWII wartime propaganda film with the same traits.

Larry Hart said...

Daniel Duffy:

Larry an even worse movie than Animal House by today's standards is Revenge of the Nerds.


It occurs to me that at the time Revenge of the Nerds was made (1984, IIRC) nerds taking on jocks and sorority sisters would have been underdogs "punching up" as it were.

Today, it would come off more like "punching down", which only Republicans find funny.

Larry Hart said...

In college, I saw a screening of Birth of a Nation, alongside my brother and a black friend of ours. I realized even at the time that the black friend likely couldn't compartmentalize the way I could, watching it as an example of something that shouldn't be, but watching it all the same.

The experience had a similarity to that of reading an Ayn Rand novel--that is, I knew that the author expected me--the audience--to hiss at the "uppity" black dudes who smoked cigarettes and acted as if they owned the place, and to cheer with relief at the climax when the Ku Klux Klan rode to the rescue of the family besieged by black ruffians. Even though my personal reactions were the diametric opposite of what I was "supposed" to be feeling.

David Brin said...

What stunned me was not just BIRTH OF A NATION, but the film INTOLERANCE which he said was to show "See? I'm NOT an intoleratnt jerk!" Only every one of his vignettes was actually racist assholery. Even the part taking place in Babylon made a villain of the Persian Cyrus who - lauded by the Bible(!) saved the Jews from captinity.

LH very good observation.

Robert, sorry, it appears that blogger's excellent and intelligent spam filter finds it hard to be taught to tolerate you, since one of my three obsessive "I NEED to shit on Brin's rug!" spammers tried to get through by hijacking your monicker. It might help if you post bits that are a little longer, so the filter has more to work with.

Daniel Duffy said...

You've heard of "Chekov's Gun" ('If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there.')

Well here is foreshadowing from Young Frankenstein that can only be called Chekov's Schwanzstucker:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SClmiso_2Y

"He's going to be very popular."

Daniel Duffy said...

Blazing Saddles achieved cinematic history as the only western to ever show a realistic portrayal of cowboys eating beans around the campfire.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPIP9KXdmO0

David Brin said...

"Woof." -- Terry Garr

Alfred Differ said...

Paul451,

I won’t pretend you weren’t.

Still feel like we are?

I don’t think they have as much power as they think they do. Damn annoying but not damn powerful.

Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin:

...the film INTOLERANCE which he said was to show "See? I'm NOT an intoleratnt jerk!" Only every one of his vignettes was actually racist assholery. Even the part taking place in Babylon made a villain of the Persian Cyrus who - lauded by the Bible(!) saved the Jews from captinity.


In 1916, Jews were not the darlings of American conservatives as they are today.

David Brin said...

onward
onward