A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Friday, February 23, 2018

News vs. Laws

James Chastek has some hard words for news reporting.

-Hard cases make good news.
-News thrives on novelty and therefore on exceptions. To treat news as calling for a law is to fundamentally misunderstand that news-stuff is contrary to law-stuff.
-We'd be closer to justice if we forbade any law to be passed in response to a news story.
-News trains us to only treat the dramatic as serious or worthy of reverence. Our "thoughts and prayers" must be directed at the screaming mother, lone survivor, deluged city, or chaos seen from a helicopter. Systemic problems must be either ignored or find a way to riot on film.
-Is there a grosser hypocrisy than the earnest somberness of the anchorman? I warn you: some of the images you're about to see are disturbing... our thoughts are with the families. Ohc'mon. You live for this! Your thoughts and prayers are for another one just like it next week!
TOF is reminded that in response to earlier cries, we put armed police in the schools. Today we learn that armed police are not an answer.


  1. Mr. Flynn, you're a science fiction expert, right? Tell me, is "To Your Scattered Bodies Go" by Philip Jose Farmer any good?

    1. I read it many years ago and enjoyed it, although its premise was distinctly fantasy.

    2. Ok, I was looking to buy it and some of the reviews I read was that it is the worst winner of the hugo award for best novel.

    3. Their reasoning being that it was a sloppily-written, racist, and misogynistic psychedlic drug trip.

    4. ...Somehow I doubt Philip Jose Farmer is a more racist or more sexist writer than N. K. Jemisin, given she makes Hiroyuki "Springtime for Tojo—IN SPACE!" Morioka look like a sane person.

      I haven't read enough of either to compare "sloppiness", though. Maybe the reviewers just really dislike psychedelia?

    5. After reading up on Farmer, it seems to me that he wrote a lot in a style similar to the pulp fiction stories, so perhaps that explains why his writing could be taken as racist and misogynistic, considering that women and minorities weren't supposedly treated in high regard.

    6. In the era of pulp fiction, that is.

    7. So say the mythologizers of the Late Modern Age. But then they weren't there, were they?

    8. Eh, lot of pulp is pretty cringe-y in places. All the women in the Conan stories, with I think only two exceptions (Valeria and BĂȘlit), are rape-victims (though not victims of rape by Conan), solely to artificially fulfill the taboo-trope that forbade heroes in adventure-fiction "spoiling" virgins. Because hooking up with the mentally-broken victims of human trafficking is so much better. The treatment of blacks in "Shadows in Zamboula" and "The Vale of Lost Women" is like something out of Birth of a Nation.

      Always remember, the late-19th to mid-20th century was so bad, people not actually clinically psychotic fell for late-20th to early-21st century lunacy. ("How bad was early industrialism? So bad people mistook Karl Marx for an economist and historian.")

    9. Another thing. Would any of you recommend the books of Poul Anderson? I have Tau Zero, but I've been reading that he's athl his best in creating believeable alien species and cultures. What do any of you think?

    10. Poul Anderson was one of the greatest SF writers of all time. I recommend his Time Patrol stories, esp. "The Sorrow of Odin the Goth" and "Star of the Sea." other novels and stories that I liked were:

      The Enemy Stars
      The High Crusade
      After Doomsday
      The Dancer from Atlantis
      The Boat of a Million Years

      "No Truce with Kings" (in Time and Stars)
      "In Memoriam"
      "Uncleftish Beholding" (both in All One Universe)
      "In the House of Sorrows" (in What Might Have Been, vol. 1)

    11. I haven't read much Anderson (couple of the Ensign Flandry stories, The Night Face), but I second the recommendation based on what I have read.

    12. What about "The Star Fox" or "Fire Time?"

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