The Good, The Bad and the Eternal

So recently some twitter twit, of whom I’ve never heard in the whole course of my days too it upon herself to put down both John Ringo’s work and mine (I’m still not sure at all why I was pulled into this, except that I gall them by existing and not falling in line.)

Those of you who have read both of us might go “What do these two things have in common?”  I don’t know, but since this was was on a twitter thread where it was also proclaimed that we wanted people like the writer to die, you have to take it with a grain of salt.  I don’t think I’ve ever consciously desired anyone’s death, though I’ve been known to wish plagues of locusts or the like against people who are annoying me.  The person then backpaddled and said that the policies we support means people like him/her/zyr would die.  This is a puzzler.  The only policies I know of that cause people to die are derived from Marxism — 100 million and counting! — so I believe Xer was misinformed.  Maybe Syr read too fast and missed the “anti” prior to Marxist.  Or maybe the uninformed keyboard strummer really believes all that stuff about you know, not paying for contraceptives is the same as banning them.  Maybe zyr believes that if we don’t actually lovingly spoon mush into zyr’s mouth, and pay for it too we want zyr to starve..

However, it was the comment on our writing that amused me the most.  Look, I enjoy the heck out of some of Ringo’s books, but it took me a while to get into them, just because his plot structure is so different from mine.  I used a very classically ordered plot.  He doesn’t.  Took me a while to realize no, it wasn’t just formless.  And because I’m a writer, it drove me nuts, looking for the pattern, and it wasn’t until I figured out what thread he was following that I could relax and enjoy it.

It’s the same problem I had watching Japanimation with the boys.  Their concepts of story are so different from ours that on first exposure, it doesn’t fit well.

So, is John Ringo a good writer?  Uh. You know, I listened to the Black Tide series, in audio book, while fixing our previous house for sale.  We had been delayed putting it for sale because I’d had major surgery and been so ill, and we were renting elsewhere and running out of money.  On top of that everything that could go wrong did, from younger son stepping on a nail and putting it through his foot, to it raining continuously while we were doing repairs outside.

You’d think it was a depressing serious to listen to, while doing that, but the thing is, as bleak as much of it is, there is a hint of unquenchable human spirit a surging tide of hope (eh) throughout the book, and you actually feel uplifted by this.

I have, for my sins, a degree in literature (actually literatures, which is a word in Portugal, because I had to study the national literature of every language I studied.  My degree is in Languages and Literatures, formally.) If you ask me if John’s work is literature, the only thing I can tell you is that it’s not “literary” which is its own separate genre and requires a certain playfulness with words, and a certain obscuring of meaning which he doesn’t bother with.

But is it literature?  Well, literature and literary have bloody nothing to do with each other.  Literature, in the sense of the stuff you study in school, is stuff that either has survived the test of centuries to speak to those yet unborn when it was written.  Yeah, there’s also modern literature and that tends to be “literary and guessing” and most of it — thank heavens– will be mercifully forgotten if not mocked by our descendants.

That contemporary stuff is picked by literature professors on very specific characteristics.  Some of it is just confusion.  Because the old stuff we study tends to have a level of opaqueness in language, (because of the time when it was written and the evolution of language) they tend to assume that opaque meaning means “literary.”  In the same way because we study the old books according to the current fads, we tend to study the old books according to the prejudices of our time: that is to say through a social-classes, struggle, anti-authority, and other Marxist distorting lens.  Thus Pride and Prejudice becomes about female oppression and money, when well… no, it wasn’t about that except very marginally and at the edges.  And what they do to Shakespeare is unforgivable.

But because we view the immortal literature through those lenses, we’ve created an entire set of books, an entire genre (and subgenres of other genres) that tries to emulate those characteristics, and is both  purposely difficult to read and, at the same time, filled with the prejudices of our time, and the cause du jour.

I am glad to report that nothing of Ringo’s I read fits in those two characteristics.

Does this make it bad.  Good Lord no.  It moves the emotions, which is what any good writer should do.  He also has an amazing amount of logic and world building buried sometimes beneath action and a few jokes.

So, am I a bad writer?  Heaven only knows.  People in general don’t seem to believe so.  Yeah, little Damian lately of the Guardian thought I was, but that’s because I a) used first person, which is apparently a “marker” of bad writing (wouldn’t a lot of immortal writers be shocked.) and b) didn’t engage in pretty-wordage.  He might have been shocked if he read my first published novel, the one which was a finalist for the Mythopoeic.

And that’s part of it.  Am I a bad writer?  Well, if you equate a certain style with “bad” I’ve written some very bad books.  If you equate a certain style with “good” I’ve written a few good ones too.

Even if you judge them as I do, as “books that are immersive and cause you to experience powerful emotions” I’ve written good and bad books, both.  Every writer does.  My favorite authors all wrote some pot boilers and then some brilliant stuff.  Our books aren’t just the product of our minds, and whatever idea we had.  They’re the product of our state at the time.  When a book is due and I’m sick, or preoccupied with something else, it’s not going to be as good as it could otherwise be.  And yet, often, those are the most successful ones.

This is why I try not to pronounce on other people’s books.  I can tell you what I don’t like and what I like, and I can say if there are factual errors in a book, or even errors of narrative (like the person who kept signaling their character was a tall male, while she was supposed to be a small female.)

Most of the time, though?  Most of the time, the worst thing I can say about a book is “I couldn’t get into it.”  If after page five I just don’t feel any reason to read on, I can’t tell you why, but the book isn’t getting a second chance.  Now, are these ever ideological?  Rarely.  Only if the politics comes at it out of place.  A long diatribe about current politics in a future book, particularly naming names, will pop me out.

But usually it’s far more subtle than that.  Usually it’s just “this just doesn’t interest me.”  And sometimes, mind you, I personally like the author as an individual.  The book just fails to interest me, and since I’ve reached the age when I’m aware my remaining reading time is finite, off it goes.

Sometimes mind you, this is situational.  I might be unable to get into a book at a time when I’m ill or stressed, then find it completely immersive three months later, when I stumble on it again.  Similarly, I might love a book, then go back 20 years later and wonder why.

So I might say things like “I haven’t read it” or “couldn’t get into it” or even “I don’t like it” or “It depressed me.”  But I rarely say “it’s a bad book” PARTICULARLY if it’s a book by someone whose ideology I despise.  Because, you know, I’m aware that they’re rubbing me wrong on the ideological front, and therefore I might not appreciate their good points, or even their great qualities.  Because I’m human.

Will some of those books I couldn’t get into go on to become immortal literature of our time?  Probably.  Statistically speaking, at least one of them should.

Don’t I feel bad about it and like I should like it?  No.  Why should I.  What I like is what I like.  What I consider good is what works on me at the moment.  Writing and story telling being such a personal art, aiming at evoking not just an emotion but a series of them in the reader, I can only tell you “this was good for me now.”  And if it works many times over years, like Heinlein or Pratchett, I’ll tell you “this is just good.”  But it’s always for me, and through my lens.

Do I have any idea what works will be immortal?  What will resonate with future generations?  Ah!  No.  I’d be surprised if at least some of Pratchett and some of Heinlein didn’t make it.  I think it’s quite likely some of Ringo will make it.  And I think it’s unlikely to the point of making me snort-giggle any of my stuff will make it.

What about the stuff the SJWs write?  Will any of it make it?

Some might.  Just because someone is objectively mistaken and in need of dried frog pills, it doesn’t mean they aren’t touched by the divine spark that makes something immortal.  An that spark makes you forgive a million bad points.

The one thing I can say for sure is that they don’t know what will make it any more than I do.  And their attempts to get people to stop reading us because we’re “objectively bad” only mark them as kindergartners, repeating what they heard teacher say, without actually understanding.

As they usually tell us about drugs and the more outre sexual explorations “How do you know you won’t like it till you try it?”

“When any government, or church for that matter, undertakes to say to it’s subjects, this you may not read, this you must not see, this you are forbidden to know the end result is tyranny and oppression, no matter how holy the motive.” – Robert A. Heinlein.

And that goes double for half-baked keyboard warriors pronouncing a holy ban on things they admit they never read.

Pfui.  Only children and savages are afraid of the written word to the point of condemning it unread.

We are given a certain time and a certain number of books that allow us to experience someone else’s mind.  Sure, a lot of those minds I won’t like, or more likely won’t interest me.

But there are minds that interest me and which are vibrant and alive in all sides of the political spectrum.  And I’d be a fool to deny myself the pleasure of those immersive books just because their authors are politically deranged.

As for trying to guess which books the future will admire, and which it will praise, and trying to read them today?  Who cares?  When that future arrives you’ll be long dead.  Do you need approval so desperately that you must have people you’ll never meet retrospectively endorse your choices?  I don’t.

The future can like what it likes.  And I can like what I like.  And if the future likes something else, that’s fine.  I doubt I’ll care.

Read.  Read whatever you like.  Enjoy what you enjoy, hate what you hate.  But do not condemn books unread, because that’s a waste of time and mind.

 

250 responses to “The Good, The Bad and the Eternal

  1. I’m still not sure at all why I was pulled into this …

    Other than for the crime of being a gender traitor? For occupying space in their vacuous heads without payment of even one sou of rent?

    [If I thought I could find one I would insert here a video clip of frolicking puppies accompanied by Bobby McFerrin’s singing of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy]
    I think they simply hate puppies and all who want them to be happy.

    • How’s this one:

    • Or there’s also this one:

      Why, yes, I do have a bunch of work that I should be doing but don’t want to, why do ask? : – )

      • Not quite what I had in mind, but serviceable indeed. I trust that if there is a G-d in Heaven you will get the rewards these deserve.

    • Dagny wags her tail each time i play this song
      And sometimes when i sing she starts to howl along
      And theres no two ways about it, she loves me when it’s good and when it’s bad
      You did not like her and she did not like you
      There was always something not quite right between you two
      I should have known when you kicked her off the bed that I was next in line for sleeping on the floor

      I only asked if we could come in from the rain
      You looked at me as if I’d completely gone insane
      You would not do something nice for my dog

      I couldn’t believe it when you hit her with that shoe
      Just couldn’t figure what the hell she’d done to you
      And I know you said it was the first time, but you did not say that it would be the last

      Why should I sit and plan untimely ends for you
      Why should I cry and moan and wonder what to do
      When I can do something nice for my dog
      Something good and something true were all the things that fled from you I know
      ‘Till there was nothing left to say and nowhere left to go

      I don’t need someone smart, I don’t need someone rich
      I just want someone nice, I already have a bitch
      And I know now that i haven’t found her
      But me and Dagny think she’s just around the bend

      She’ll bring the kind of love that you could never give
      She’ll bring me joy and hope and make me want to live
      And she’ll bring something nice for my dog

    • Isn’t the STD back in circulation and using his beyond-parody pseudonyms?
      It’s possible/probable he’s found a new place to go and pronounce folks are horrible evil bad people, and as usual somebody takes the bait.

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    There are very few books that I’ll say “That’s a Terrible Book” but even there I’m aware that there are people (G*d knows why) who will enjoy them.

    • William O. B'Livion

      You ever try reading Das Kapital?

      I mean, it IS fiction, even if it’s not a novel.

  3. There’s been a few books I have put down. Not because they were bad, just because I didn’t enjoy them. As you said, it’s a matter of taste. Mind you there have been some pieces of pure drek that I was forced to read for school. Only reason why I am still a reader after having “literature” shoved down my throat was because I was a reader before they tried to spoil it.

    • I’ve been putting a few more down lately. I stopped reading one a few months ago because the writer refused to use a gender specific pronoun. Instead she used ‘their’. It got really confusing, especially during fight scenes.

      • I rarely stop reading a particular book I’ve started; it’s happened, but as well as not being able to get into, it has a lot of swearing or “smut” (just fade to yep, happened. Don’t need TMI). Have been series I dropped or wish I did, because story kept repeating/repeating/repeating/, point made, prior plots. Yes revisiting is needed, but not 1/3 or half the book, again, & again. With BookBub, a lot of first book in series read, archive book, & never get anymore of the series. A few that catch me just right, I find & mark every book in the series & get them “right now”. Others mileage may vary.

  4. “When I die, let it be said/ [Her] sins were scarlet but her books were read.”

    There are times I want a tight-paced action book. There are times when the last thing I need to read is a tight-paced action book. I prefer rather straight one-place-at-a-time chronologies, but I can wade through pure multi-setting chronologies if I need to. Can’t say I prefer that kind of book, but if it gets the story/history across, then hey. It diesn’t mane the book a bad book.

    • I’m typing on an unfamiliar keyboard. I think it hates me.

    • Right? I prefer to WRITE tightly structured books. I can enjoy unstructured ones, if I send my inner writer for a hike. I prefer first person, but some of my favorite books are third person. It’s all on the book and the moment.

  5. As far as wishing those like he/she/xe/zir dead, I’ll confess that every now and then I have wished that those people would get exactly the revolution they claim to want. I know, bad evil Zsuzsa, I will go do penance for those thoughts now.

    • Is it “wishing someone were dead” to advocate an urban wolf/bear reintroduction and support program?

      • Nope. More cruelty to animals. A lot of the modern Progs seem to have adopted the hippie’s ideas regarding personal hygiene.

    • No, I just wish the xe/zir were never invented. However, I recognize that ideas, no matter how stupid or ridiculous, can’t be killed. But they can be derided, or ignored into obscurity.

    • Every now and then?

      I think every time I hear them speak I fantasize about them getting the revolution they want only to find out instead of being the overseers they think they will be they are the useful idiots who are liquidated as too dangerous because they proved they will overthrow a government.

      I imagine a succession of cell mates convinced they will soon be released while my white, conservative, male butt is going to die only to hear them screaming “but I believe in the revolution” when they realize it is them about to be shot.

      • If only Comrade Clinton knew of this! She would pardon me!

      • Wimps. If they were TRUE revolutionaries, they would confess to any and every thing that the revolution requires them to confess.

        • I used to say I’d hear them yell, “But I supported the Revolution” and was told that was easy as the jailers would add, “Why supported, why do you no longer support it.”

      • Or, better, try this on for size. The door to the cell block blows in, and a bunch of men and women in tattered uniforms come in. They start calling out names. Yours is among them. Your cell mate’s is not.
        They ask “Why not me?” as they’re left behind for the tender mercies of the reaction force coming to end the prison break.
        “Because this prison was your idea to begin with!”

    • Idly daydreaming that they get what they wish for, not what they WANTED is very different from wishing them dead. Death being only a possibility in the reality of the scenario that they think they’ll get.

      • I’m not feeling charitable (225 mile round trip to see the eye surgeon for followup. Things went well*, but I’m exhausted). I think that there are several possible outcomes where they might prefer death. (rubs hands at the prospect)

        (*) Very well, actually. Among other things, I brought a GPS unit and used the altimeter function** to determine rest stops. Generally, every 250 feet of elevation gain == 5 minute wait. The gas bubble in my eye didn’t screw up ,y vision this time (last time, I inadvertently did 1250′ of elevation gain in 5 minutes and my vision in the right eye cut out entirely. Not something I wish to repeat, ever.) Beyond that, the eye is healing and the five(!) different eye drops aren’t doing any other damage, beyond a seriously abused right sinus.

        (**) analog altimeter arrived at our mail drop today. Will probably need/use it in two weeks for the next trip. That bubble is persistent–an inert gas that lasts “a while”, perhaps several weeks.

      • Hell is living for eternity in the world you wanted to force others into.

  6. As they usually tell us about drugs and the more outre sexual explorations “How do you know you won’t like it till you try it?”

    Well, it’s like this. If I’m walking along a city sidewalk in August and I see evidence of a healthy dog that the owner has failed to clean up, I’m not going to have to taste it to know that I’m not going to want to eat any of it.

    Which is what I told an elite cadre of fellow employees who wouldn’t let me alone.

  7. As they usually tell us about drugs and the more outre sexual explorations “How do you know you won’t like it till you try it?”

    Well, it’s like this. If I’m walking along a city sidewalk in August and I see evidence of a healthy dog that the owner has failed to clean up, I’m not going to have to taste it to know that I’m not going to want to eat any of it.

    Which is what I told an elite cadre of fellow employees who wouldn’t let me alone.

    • You know what, sure for things that damage you, like drugs and sex. BUT BOOKS? How do you know what’s inside till you open it?

      • How do I know? Sometimes they have the Good Headkeeping Seal Of Approval on their covers. Or blurbs from certain authors who have made it clear that they despise my tastes, consider me deplorable and would happily award me an asterisk. I already have reading aplenty and have no need to burn my view remaining hours of reading time on books promising low amounts of compensation.

      • Admittedly, you can’t know, but when I see a title like “The Feminist Duchess” on top of a woman in a Regency dress staring at a shirtless man in breeches, I can be pretty sure.

        Maybe I’m wrong and the book is actually a fabulous and insightful tome, but sometimes life is just too short to find out.

        • It would be pretty entertaining if it were to be historically accurate….

          In her defense, Aphra Behn invented milk punch, an advanced form of syllabub.

        • Yes. Getting that way with were/shape-shifter’s too. It’s like “its not porn if it’s wild animals” … uh yes it is. Pictures not required, it is still porn if TMI is detailed. YMMV

      • Any book with the title, Necronomicon, covered with blackened human skin, is probably not a good idea to have around the house, much less open and read.

        • But…it’s highly recommended by Nyarlathotep HIMSELF!

          • Did you just assume Nyarlathotep’s gender? REEEEEEEEEE!!!!11!1!!oneone

            😉

            (But seriously, while I am aware of the grammatical convention of unknown sexes being given the male pronoun, my limited understanding of the Old Ones always makes me do a double-take. Especially since in the past I knew a female who went by that as her online handle. 😛 )

            • HP does describe Nyarly as male- the Black Man of colonial witchery is one of his avatars… but there’s other avatars, so no worries.

              • There is a manga and anime where Nyar-chan is a cute little girl living in Japan. Because of course there is.

                • There’s also anime where Satan is working part time in a McDonald’s expy.

                  • I heard that The Devil is a Part-Timer! is a fun anime. I’ll have to see if I can get it sometime.

                    • We don’t watch it when the kids are up, but the few eps I’ve seen are drop-dead funny– especially since they went the usual Japanese route of slapping a western name on existing mythology with maybe a few bits here and there, instead of trying to make the mythology work or just making it up as they go. (See also, “nuns” that are basically temple maidens, and the priest is their father. ^.^ )

      • I certainly wouldn’t have the temerity to rate a book without reading it. However, and perhaps in a supreme demonstration of cognitive dissonance, I will choose to read a book based on ratings. The next logical question here is which rating.. well, being of old and addled mind, a great many times I can’t remember what books I have read and what books I haven’t. So I rely on Goodreads to help me keep up with that, and, consequntially, I usually will look at the rating there when deciding if I will read a book or not when I am unfamiliar with an author or a story line. I’ve found that any book above a 4 star and 1000 voters is pretty much a sure thing. Below three or less than a 100 voters, I’m taking my chances. I consider Goodreads a fairly unbiased system. Amazon and naturally the ‘literary’ ratings, reviewers, and award deliverers, not so much. Oh, and yeah.. I will always rate every book I read there..

    • The first (and subsequent) times that’s been used on me by lonely gay men (and how on Earth do I even make a blip on their gaydar?) My answer has been, ‘I know because I have been having erotic dreams for more than (X number (now 40)) years, and I’ve never had one about another fella. And I’ve never shot myself in the head with a .45 caliber pistol, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t enjoy the experience and am not about to experiment to prove myself wrong.’

  8. the worst thing I can say about a book is “I couldn’t get into it.”
    The worst I can say is it’s a steaming pile of excrement written by a lemur and edited by a slime mold with no sense of English grammar or vocabulary and unable to tell a story for a pre-nap snack, much less their supper, and a waste of the life used to make and harvest a lump of coal to power the pixels to type and display it.
    But that might just be me. 😉

    The main reason for TRUMP is the insistence by the progs in politicizing EVERYTHING. *Everything* must conform. It’s what distinguishes the homosexual “movement” from homosexuals, etc. So, a good book might have homosexual characters, but a proper book makes the point that the homosexual characters are good and right and must be supported. (A good book might have that character as a villain – oh, the horror! – but a proper book would *never* do that.)

    • *Everything* must conform.

      When I was adolescent I learned that the covers of my preferred reading were more likely to elicit scorn than initiate conversations. As a consequence I have a very low threshold of tolerance for those who presume to lecture me on how I spend my time and my money for my own amusement.

      I do not seek their approval, I am not interested in their approval, gaining their approval has no value to me.

      As for their disapproval, I can provide a rope of moderate length up which they are invited to urinate.

    • That almost sounds like a challenge for someone to deliberately write “a steaming pile of excrement”, “with no sense of English grammar or vocabulary”, with no story worthy of any meal, and wasteful of the energy to type or display it, under the nom de plume of Lemur, or perhaps as a thesis by Zebadiah John Carter.

      • Oh they are out there, and they are printed. One I read for a friend taking a “Post Modernist Literature” course and I cursed her name when she dropped it. A William Burroughs book and another one. The second was a smashup of Neuromancer and Huckleberry Finn. Was ranting about how horrid it was and my friend mentioned that the female author had died of cancer. She recoiled at my vehement response of “GOOD!”
        The more I learn about a university education the more I am terrified of it.

        • I don’t know that I could ever go as far as that, but I do remember my joy when I learned that a certain author’s third book had been destroyed in a fire, along with all backup copies. I felt guilty about that, since as a writer I know how much it would hurt to lose those words, but…well, I’d been subjected to this author’s first two books in my English class, and I couldn’t help but be happy for future generations who wouldn’t have to know any further misery.

          • Trust me, Burroughs although painful was still readable and made some sort of sense. The other? *shudder* The title of the book will remain with me forever, fortunately the authors name has vanished.

            • The problem with reading Burroughs is calibrating the exact right amount of heroin to inject for it to make maximal sense.

              Says the man who actually thinks he understands Zardox but there you go.

              • You weren’t talking about Edgar Rice Burroughs?

              • Terry Sanders

                Zardox? I thought you said “Zardoz” until I Googled as a precaution. Now I’m merely puzzled.

                • Mistyped…I meant Zardoz.

                  • Zardoz – the thing to take when you just have to sleep!

                    • Hey now, I love that movie although my description of it does get looks.

                      Seriously, it makes sense to me. It is the perfect movie version of a strain of SF short novels dating at least to Clarke’s Against the Fall of Night, done true Hollywood style in Logan’s Run, and done best, IMNSHO, by Tanith Lee in Don’t Bite the Sun and Drinking Sapphire Wine (being two novels on my “please let me write like that one day” list).

                      In fact, I’m amazed Boorman did as well as he did given his admission in the director’s commentary on the DVD that he was on drugs the entire time.

          • I do not recall ever truly having the desire to kill anyone, however there are some very special people whom I will take inordinate pleasure in outliving if I do outlive them.

        • The problem with a ‘liberal arts’ college is that, when you get right down to it, there are only so many Professors of English Lit that any society needs. Hard sciences , yes. Engineering, yes. Anything in the humanities is a luxury good. My father (PhD in Hostory of Science) was amazed at how mcj society was willing to pay him for something as unessential as scholarship in hi field.

          Its nice to have humanities scholars around, in limited quantities. Every once in a while one turns out to be a Tolkien. But they aren’t necessary, and I think that on some level the realization makes them pissy.

          • There’s one humanities field that I’ll argue is a necessity, not a luxury, and that is history. If you don’t have good history professors, you’ll end up believing that Marxism has never been tried “correctly” before, and that this time around it’ll actually produce a paradise (when what it really produces is hell on earth*).

            * I’m not even exaggerating for comedic effect here. I mean exactly that.

            • Except that these days, in the vast majority of universities, the “history” professors are among the foremost apologists for the appalling.

              • Which is why I said good history professors. We don’t have many of them right now (there are a few like TXRed, thankfully), which is why there are so many college students falling for Marxist lies.

      • Well, I think the challenge would be to write something worse than that. But yeah. 🙂

      • Been done. I am old enough to remember a notorious best-seller called “Naked Came the Stranger” – cooked up by a party of professional writers, deliberately trying to write the worst book imaginable –
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naked_Came_the_Stranger

      • I said it was a first draft, damnit.

      • That was the infamous “If I were a Dinosaur, My Love.”
        Well, the grammar and syntax were up to standard, I must admit, but the rest? I’d call it piece of conceptual art, because it was all concept and very little art.

  9. [I am a bad writer] because I a) used first person … and b) didn’t engage in pretty-wordage.

    By that token you are in good company. Raymond Chandler wrote in first person, as did Robert Heinlein and neither thought the reader was paying for pretty-wordage in lieu of plot and character.

    Perhaps the more accurate definition of their standard for “bad writer” is akin to that manifesting when we tell a dog it has been “bad, bad dog” for acting in other than Master’s approved manner.

  10. I try not to pronounce on other people’s books. I can tell you what I don’t like and what I like …

    It requires a certain degree of arrogance to commingle one’s personal preferences with universal standards and presume to decree from there what is good and what is bad. Happily for the Left, arrogance is something they never run short of.

    • Agreed – there are plenty of excellent books that are just not my cup of tea. And I wish their authors all the best, but I choose to read other stuff. I’m getting picker and pickier in my old age, too (although I’ve been told that’s also normal when you reach a certain stage as a beginning writer, and I may go more broad again as I’m more confident in my style, which I would prefer. One can only re-read Pratchett so many times.)

      • At one point I did a five-star review of a book…and had to open with that I hated it, and why.

        I “get” that many “twists” are considered clever and worldly, they strike me as obnoxious and rather childish– like someone who drops the f-bomb every third word because, gosh, look, I can curse. *Eyeroll*

        • That last bit reminds me of a book I read about a third of where the author was incapable of writing any character who didn’t talk like a New York Times reporter. However, many of the characters were cops, gangsters, and other “edgy” types. His solution was to stick in a whole bunch of “f-bombs” to clue in the audience to the fact that these guys were “edgy.” The result sounded they were all a bunch of New York Times reporters with Tourette’s syndrome.

          • Reminds me of some old radio show character (I forget the character and the show at the moment, alas) who was clearly “lower class” but trying to sound “upper class” by avoiding contractions. The result was… interesting.

        • Speaking of reviews, has anyone had Amazon reviews disappear? I went to add another Wine of the Gods one and found a lot of mine are gone.

          • Yeah, they discovered the crowd reporting version was being exploited, so now there’s some kind of algorithm that went back and removed a BUNCH, and I had some auto-declined because they triggered it.
            (Somehow I triggered mention of a different product, when I was raving about how the product was so good I’d used the whole box and was ordering a second one in less than a month.)

            I think you can contest it? Check over a Finn’s place, he was the first person I heard mention it.

          • they do that when they decide you’re a robot or the author’s relative. contact them and yell.

            • Hmmm…these were mostly 3 stars of the “I wanted to like it more but flaws” type. I’ll take a look. Most are older and I could write better ones anyway so I might do that instead.

  11. Once I got out of school the only criteria that mattered to me became “Was I entertained?” If the answer was no, then to the trash bin with it. I also enjoy learning things from time to time, but not to be preached at. I think that was my problem when I attempted Ayn Rand (many years ago), it seemed too preachy and not entertaining enough.

    Which means that Ringo and Hoyt, though writing in different style, get my vote for “Good Writer” because they both write highly entertaining stories for which I’m willing to give them my money.

    • From even minor familiarity with you, I just thought of something–
      Maybe part of the problem is that our idea of “entertained” includes “that is interesting to think about” type stuff?

      I like Chesterton, but he’s definitely not in the bouncy-house or amusement park type entertaining category, more like in the “big job that if you are dedicated, you can get through, and then DANG does it feel good” type “entertainment.”

      Even the father Brown stories are more like Pratchett, if you don’t pay attention you’ll miss most of it.

      • Well, I did just jump from an Aaron Elkins novel to an old anthropology book that I don’t remember the individual parts of, but which I do remember thinking at the time “hey, this is funny stuff.”

  12. What about the stuff the SJWs write? Will any of it make it?

    Here I must say that I suspect not. They are playing to contemporary mores and that frequently makes a work ephemeral, as passing as the flatulence of contemporary morality. Because they write to appease a certain sensibility they do not subject their work to the rigors of open competition; their route to the marketplace is paved before them and they therefor lack the struggle to achieve quality except on the most superficial terms.

    This may be one reason they are so possessive f the Hugo and Nebula awards. it is only by such markers that there is any hope of future readers tracking down their books. People will track down Starship Troopers and MiaHM long after their “science” is as dated as anything in Verne or Wells, while last year’s Hugo winning novel is already forgotten.

    • As mentioned in previous comments, those books will come across as super painfully dated and stale, with the “cutting edge” attempts at inclusiveness coming across as patronizing and insulting.
      Live by the PC sword, die by the PC sword.

  13. As for trying to guess which books the future will admire, and which it will praise, and trying to read them today?

    Are there people in Heaven wringing their hands and bemoaning their failure to have read Jane Austen when her works first came out?

    I think it more likely those people are in somewhat lower circumstance.

    • I still think more kindly of Prinny because he liked Austen. But yeah, not really the fanboy that Every Author Wants, and highly unlikely to have passed St. Peter.

  14. I’ve just read that one of THEM is demanding that no one write female villains anymore, for much the same reason. Which is ridiculous – everyone knows women make the best villains. 🙂

    • Sorry, this was meant to be a reply to GWB’s comment above.

    • Dan Hamilton

      You sexist!

    • I’m unsure if the demand was that no one write female villains but that people stop writing them with female motivations.

      Though I didn’t read the article.

      But if that’s the thing, that female villains shouldn’t have those stereotypical female motivations, it sort of goes against parallel demands that female characters are supposed to have female ways of thinking and not be men with boobs.

      Which, come to think of it, brings us all the way back to the current kerfuffle and silly notions like men not looking at boobs, and for certain not writing women who don’t behave in the appropriate ways, which today is hyper-Victorian and yesterday was sex-positive, and a year ago was powerful, and tomorrow will be special womanly ways of thinking that don’t bother with the hard edges and logic of the male world.

      • “Female” motivations? I am sorry, but in this modern constructive gender identity transnormative era I will need something far, far more specific than that.

        • It was a Tor.com article? Maybe? Or HuffPo? I don’t know what the list of female motivated villianesses motivation was.

          Though I’ll point out that the villain in Kingsman 2 was, other than being completely horrible in all ways, motivated by the need to be able to let the whole planet know that she was the most successful business woman on the planet. So, “feminism.” But that was deliberately cartoonish, like Dr. Evil wanting to do evil instead of keep on with the legitimate businesses that made him billions while he was frozen, because she also could have diversified in areas that were legal and then taken her “proper” place.

    • Just because I’ve got a touch of the masochist about me (and because I really, really don’t want to do my coding), link?

      • I confess, I can’t remember, it was actually a couple of days ago, and it was a repost on someone’s blog, and I only read the block quotes. It may have been originally on the M@ry Su3, but I couldn’t swear to it.

      • I think Synova is right, the original is on Tor somewhere. I’m not going to check because I don’t want to give them the hits – I think a whole lot of these ridiculous articles are meant to be outrageous to get hits.

  15. I’ve read a couple of category romances that were objectively bad.

    But people will announce that all of them are “drek” or what-not because they don’t care for the genre, which is unfair. And since romance sells more than any other genre, is also short sighted and stupid because no one need take the time to find out what “drek” does right and how they might be able to incorporate that into their own story-telling.

    I don’t think that any of us are as careful about not proclaiming work “bad writing” as we think we are, but on a normal day I don’t know how anyone can say “this successful author is objectively bad at their craft” with any seriousness; not because they don’t happen to enjoy a particular style, and certainly not because they don’t happen to admire a particular author.

  16. And also… how much does this all tie into the identity-adjacent tendencies of people to want to hoard all the creativity to their own “side” so they can then pretend that because they belong to that side that they are, therefore, also creative? (Same dang thing with those who “love science” but aren’t actually interested in it, don’t understand it, but by golly, they support the correct conclusions and policies and attack the “deniers” so that makes them smart too.)

    • To anyone who says that they “F’n love science,” the only appropriate response is, “Okay, can you explain the second law of thermodynamics?”

      I wonder how many of them could get anywhere close to a coherent answer to that question.

      • Okay, can you explain the second law of thermodynamics?

        Explain it?


        Bube, I can sing it!

      • Coherency would require I not get all convulsive when you say “thermodynamics”. But I can handle it most days.

        (“Thermo” was the weed-out class for certain degrees at my school. We had a few times when the curve had As starting somewhere around 50+% scores.)

        • Oh, like my “Introduction to Ecosystem Biology” class. 50% chemistry and physics, 50% statistics and biology, 100% killer. Was the weed-out for five undergrad majors. I worked harder for that class than for any “real” graduate class I took in all of grad school.

          • There was a physical anthropology course I took that was somewhat like that, though it was listed as a three hundred level course. It involved a algebra, trigonometry, physics, and a lot of anatomy and biology. By the end of the Primate Locomotion course, the class had dwindled to half of its original size. And the next year, it had been reclassified as a six hundred level course – and two prerequisites had been added.

      • For the folks who instantly went: Hm, what was that one, again?”
        http://physicsforidiots.com/physics/thermodynamics/

        I’d probably rephrase it as “stuff generally doesn’t organize itself.” (Being horrible at remembering names and most wording of laws, I’d have to be reminded it’s “The entropy of the universe tends to a maximum”!)

        Less because I “Fing” love science, than because I like to have answers to questions. 🙂

        • “That s*** didn’t get in that bag on its own!”

        • Oooh, finally a science website for me!

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          I can show some relevant coursework.

          Suffice to say that I’ve been exposed to more than one formulation of the laws, am strongly convinced that they are true, and can reason based on them, but off the top of my head could only remember which is which for zero. (We assume two touching things with no heat transfer are at the same temperature, IIRC.)

        • “The entropy of the universe tends to a maximum”

          aka “Things Fall Apart” ??

      • I don’t love science but I thought the first law of thermodynamics is “You can’t win” and the second law is “You can’t break even.”

      • I rather like the admittedly crude summary of the Laws of Thermodynamics which goes:

        1. You can’t win.
        2. You can’t break even.
        3. It’s the only game in town.

        And then there’s the curiosity of needing to state the obvious with the “Zeroth Law” (If A=B and B=C then A=C).

        • I recall a minor variant:

          1. You can’t win.
          2. You can’t break even.
          3. You can’t get out of the game.

      • Never mind explaining it, can you calculate with it? (I’m still working on that..very very slowly)

    • The odd one is that professing belief in evolution is generally inversely proportionally to actually believing in it.

  17. Perhaps “little Damian lately of the Guardian” needs to read Anthem, by Ayn Rand. Methinks he’s a bit ignorant of the concept of the word “I”.

    Funny, because “Anthem” was a required reading book when I was going through school. But apparently it hasn’t been since then; otherwise we’d be seeing a lot more intelligent behavior, or at least thought, out of the past two generations of children indoctrinated by the public school systems. Rand purged by the Progressives. Just like they try to purge most of you. And isn’t it interesting that she came out of a socialist morass like Sarah did? (Although I think Sarah is far more entertaining than Ms Rand.)

  18. Dan Hamilton

    The Great Books are boring. I found this to be true back in the dim dark days when the world was young. Why? Because of the TRUTH my teachers taught me. One of the reasons they were Great was because of the wonderful descriptions the authors used. So full and complete. They put you there, you could see them in your mind. And that was the truth.

    It was also WHY they were boring. Having watched TV and Movies I KNEW what Dickenson’s London looked like, I had seen pictures. Spending page after page describing it was boring, just get on with the story. Many of the Great Books suffer from this.

    I still read some of them, some I even liked but I did sometimes go quickly over some descriptions.

    • 10-4, good buddy…

      I also wondered why, if those books were so great, they required college-level “appreciation” classes to be correctly interpreted…

      “We paid good money to learn these books, you should be glad we’re ramming them down your throat!”

      • Why James Joyce? Why Charlotte Perkins Gilman, I think she’s the author of the story of the woman who went mad in a room with peeling yellow wallpaper. Plus a multitude of others. Alice Walker. The Color Purple seemed dumbed down.

    • I think it was Twain who said that a ‘Classic’ was a book everyone wants to have read, but nobody wants to read.

  19. BTW, Fun in the news:

    THE DNC GOES TO COURT
    powerlineblog[DOT]com/archives/2018/04/the-dnc-goes-to-court.php

    DNC sues Russia, Trump campaign and WikiLeaks for conspiracy
    nypost[DOT]com/2018/04/20/dnc-suing-russia-trump-campaign-and-wikileaks-for-conspiracy/

    Bush-bashing professor has Fresno State scrambling to keep its donors
    nypost[DOT]com/2018/04/20/bush-bashing-professor-has-fresno-state-scrambling-to-keep-its-donors/

    Geeze, Obama was right; the arc of the universe does bend toward justice!

    • Also, McCabe is suing Trump for defamation.

      The Republicans had better keep their hold on the House and Senate in the mid-terms.

    • And, in the Merely Ignorant Is So Overrated category, this from Twitchy (also via Instapundit):
      ‘Stunning’: Holocaust Museum tour by lawmaker who said Jews control weather does not go well
      During a tour of the Holocaust Memorial Museum in DC, with one of our favorite mind-numb politicians…

      The photo, taken in 1935, depicts a woman in a dark dress shuffling down a street in Norden, Germany. A large sign hangs from her neck: “I am a German girl and allowed myself to be defiled by a Jew.” She is surrounded by Nazi storm troopers.

      D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8) studied the image. “Are they protecting her?”

      Lynn Williams, an expert on educational programs at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and White’s tour guide for the day, stared at the photo.

      “No,” she said. “They’re marching her through.”

      “Marching through is protecting,” White said.

      “I think they’re humiliating her,” Williams replied.

      Oh, it get’s better. After White leaves some of his staffers continue with the tour….

      Seven of White’s staff members stayed with the guide, who soon was showing them an exhibit on the Warsaw Ghetto. As she explained the walling in of Polish Jews, one aide asked whether it was similar to “a gated community.”

      [Rabbi Batya] Glazer spoke up.

      “Yeah, I wouldn’t call it a gated community,” she said. “More like a prison.”

      Taking place on the 75th anniversary of…
      The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

      • *pinches bridge of nose* But a survey that asked random people really stupid questions and probably got a ton of smart-ass answers is what’s all over the news.

        Incidentally, I know that Sarah started putting it in as a sort of indication of exasperation, but it really does work amazingly well for reducing the headache.

        • *pinches bridge of nose*
          Yeah, works for sinus stuff, too.
          And it distracts from the other hand clenching itself involuntarily into a fist.

    • Because “The Russians told you the truth! We would have won if we had kept you in the dark!” is the Best Rallying Cry Ever.

    • The DNC are going to have to produce evidence; believable evidence. I think that will be a loooooooooooooong jump to make.

  20. Christopher M. Chupik

    You are a particular thorn in their feet because you are:

    1.) Female
    2.) Hispanic
    3.) An immigrant
    4.) Not a Marxist

    The fact that you should be an ally and aren’t is unforgiveable.

  21. Those of you who have read both of us might go “What do these two things have in common?”

    A publisher known for not caring about right thinking…all Baen authors are clearly White Male Mormon Nazi Homophobes.

    I wish I was kidding.

    As they usually tell us about drugs and the more outre sexual explorations “How do you know you won’t like it till you try it?”

    Because if it isn’t for you there is a high risk of damage that will put you in therapy for quite a while.

    Anyone who genuinely is out on the sexual or other edge exploring will tell you that. Tattoo guys will not put a first tattoo on your face as a whinny feminist found out (warning, Jezebel link) because they have good ethics.

    I know some more extreme types of play. However, I won’t engage in those if you don’t have some experience because they are edgy and can freak you out. Hell, the can freak me out. I want to know you liked someone an inch closer to sane before we try something and before than you were an inch closer.

    You only move by feet at the first few steps (as people at “50 Shades” demo night learned and I had to bite my lip not to laugh).

    People who say that have never tried it and never will so they are not to be listened to.

    • Some of us are able to observe the effects of certain chemicals, or the affect on the body and/or psyche of various physical entertainments. Some things, like legalized recreational marijuana, I’d be willing to try. But meth? No way in H E double hockey sticks. Skydiving? Sure, my grandfather said jumping out of a perfectly sound airplane over Western Europe was rather exhilarating. Spelunking? No thanks, I’m not a fan of tight spaces, or complete and utter darkness.

      • In terms of skydiving, spelunking, adventure racing, etc there is such a thing as an adrenaline junkie. We come in different forms but it is something we crave (a lot of us have ADD and it is a focus thing).

        But my point was people who are experienced in those things would never seriously say you can’t know if you like it until your try it. We expect newbies to have walked some sort of path to know there is a good reason to think the reward outweighs the risk. “That might be fun” from some kid off the street won’t cut it.

        You I’m not worried about. It is the idiot who saw The Longest Day and wants to do a HELO drop first thing that scares me.

      • I never really wanted to try any drugs until I read through a copy of Aldous Huxley’s “The Doors of Perception”. I think I spent part of the next 2 years researching (via books) different drugs that have been used in religious rituals.

        DMT, peyote, and shrooms all have some interesting studies associated with their use.

        • I have given considerable thought to microdosing LSD to work on my ADD. The evidence on long term creativity increases by one carefully administered dose of psycho-active drugs (specifically ‘shrooms) has also caught my attention.

          Purity and dosing are my principle concerns.

          • Not. Worth. The. Risk. Oh, holy mother of pearl, do not go there. Go check carefully on the downsides of the numerous people for whom it did not work out. These are the people who got the “good stuff” too. The street stuff, wow. Super bad.

            Also, if you are buying weed, and it is not the bonafied medical grade shit, from the licensed medical producer, signed, sealed and delivered, do not buy it. There is an awful lot of “weed” out there dosed with “synthetic THC” which is soooo very much not safe. Oh, my ghod. We’re talking fatal here, and the ones that died might have been the lucky ones, long term.

            Important safety tip from Safety Squirrel kids, you only get one brain. Do not fuck it up with some shit you bought from Bobby down the street. You’ve got ADD or some other issues, CBD oil might help, but get it from the doctor. Otherwise, who the hell knows what Bobby cut it with?

            • Don’t forget the street vendors have started dosing a lot of the softer drugs with that synthetic opioid– the one that was an elephant tranq, it’s from China.

              The difference between “high” and “dead” for that is not something a human can measure by hand, for an idea of how scary that is. It’s likely one of the major causes for the “opioid epidemic.”

              • Yes, there’s a bunch of that out there. Synthetic cocaine, synthetic opiates, stuff they’re calling “Molly” but isn’t, the varieties of fake THC that bind to canabinoid receptors in the brain 100 times more than actual THC, fentanyl, the chemists have been having a jolly time.

                Note that -none- of these molecules are the Real Thing, they only resemble the real thing. They can be wildly different and still hit the same receptor sites on your poor eroded neurons. The problem is that these molecules are new, psychoactive, and they all are completely untested. Nobody knows how they work, or what else they do to the human body besides get you high.

                I know about this stuff not from using it [shudder!] but from the stories from the hospital people who have to somehow scrape the users, dare I say victims, together again. The side effects and long-term damage from this stuff have yet to be determined, because they keep changing it. Last month’s fake THC/fentanyl/crack is completely different than this month’s. Some of that is deliberate, to stay ahead of the DEA. But some of it is because of impurities in the precursor chemicals, the processes, and so forth. Plus they suck at chemistry and they just don’t care a damn how the stuff turns out. Because criminals.

                Lately there’s a THC analog that has users bleeding from the eyes, ears and gums, there’s one that causes convulsions and seizures in some users, there’s something that makes people tear all their clothes off and try to bite other people, there’s one that makes the user into an actual zombie, comatose and unresponsive. Fun, right?

                I think it might be safer to shoot yourself in the head with a .22 than to take some of this shit. The bullet might actually do less damage.

                • “there’s something that makes people tear all their clothes off and try to bite other people”

                  John obviously needs to put a banner up that Black Tide Rising is not an instruction manual……

            • There are a bunch of synthetics out there now. With the right equipment and perusing of the right web forums, the difficulty level doesn’t seem to be high.

              Unfortunately, at the street drug level you still don’t know what you’re buying. A friend’s son was a heavy stoner. He purchased some “synthetic THC” a couple of years ago. Might have been a bad batch. Might have been something else. Might have been “dunno what this does, sell some and see what the customers think.”

              After the seizures his parents took him back in and have been caring for him, but they’re about tired of the alternating rages and weasel-stoner behavior. He’s been an adult for a long time, which shuts off a lot of charity/state care avenues. But it doesn’t look like he’ll ever be able to live on his own again.

              So far they’ve been unwilling to implement my solution (*), but I think their resistance is weakening.

              (*) “Let’s take him over the state line, drop him off somewhere, and come back and change all the locks and the alarm code.”

              • I quit a job because the bosses son was crazy from being on different substances for the last 20 years, he was 32; technically a “co-worker” because he couldn’t get or keep another job. Don’t know what set him off the day I decided, “I’m done, can’t work from home, boss said no.” Was not the only one to leave the office, for the same reason. Not long after I quit, guns, that is GUNS, AR-15’s, pistols, were confiscated from him by the police … yep, not going to be a statistic.

                • While my only first-hand witness to a school shooter was from clear back in Columbine (she moved the year before–not a very nice human being, but she identified them as bullies and generally giving her the creeps), I would like to point out that the hairs on the back of your neck exist for a reason.

                  One of my co-workers had been on just about every drug out there before joining the Navy (even tried heroin once– one of those folks it did nothing for), and I wouldn’t have had any trouble working with him. Don’t trust his common sense further than I can throw it, but…ATs. Kinda a given that common sense is rare.

                  Vs the other guy who had never done anything but a little weed, who you wouldn’t want to turn your back on, and the one who was just a straight up unapologetic predator/user.

                  None of which I would’ve identified that way when I was actually there, just a matter of describing the “sense” of them years later.

                  • “I would like to point out that the hairs on the back of your neck exist for a reason.”

                    At the time I thought I might be overreacting, as the only female employee. Lived protected life. Really did not know the “appropriate” response. But, when the guys said, nope & left too … definitely not overreacting. One guy even moved his family across state. He did end up working from home, rather than having to quit.

                    Absolutely not right (yea, world doesn’t work that way).

                    I had different (excuses) reasons to use without moving, but boss said no. Talked to hubby. His response:: “Does not sound like you are over reacting. I’ve already said you should quit, just because. So, now it is a safety reason. Quit.” Hubby had been retired already almost 5 years, so … Gave notice at the end of the year. If kid was in the office, my migraines suddenly popped up, or back suddenly went out (old hath its benefits); being in the office was still a risk … this was all before the big blowup with the police the next year. They were lucky he wasn’t killed.

          • LSD on top of a pre-existing psychiatric condition is a very high risk endeavor. Per a Danish study, about one in three users will have later negative effects, and there was a pretty much one-for-one correlation between existing condition and negative outcome. Trouble is, we don’t know where the line is between “no worries” and “you’ll be sorry for the rest of your life”.

          • I had a friend that did shrooms and even though he had a ‘bad’ trip he said it actually impoved his life. He said something along the lines of it having shifted his views and he saw that most people in his life were actually bad influences.

            Peyote is supposed to help with alcoholism and there are has been some interesting research done with DMT. If I remember correctly, Ecstasy was also used to help several psychiatric conditions.

            I think a lot of the harm of drugs is bad PR. Like pretty much everything else humans do, doing too much is bad for you.

          • Start with microdosing while commenting here.
            We’ll let you know how it turns out………

    • Even Eric Flint is anathematized?

      • Oh yes…for the SJW/Leftist crowd there is no easier guilt to seize on than guilt by association, any association no manner how minor.

        I’ve seen “took a picture with this unperson” when the picture happened in public before the unperson was a known bad thinker and was just a random group picture someone there wanted. Didn’t matter, you allowed yourself to be photographed with this unperson. You must defend yourself and no defense is sufficient.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          I remember hearing of some actress complaining that a picture of her was on the same page as a campaign ad for Bush in some newspaper/magazine.

          No way was She a Supporter of Bush!!! 😈

        • Insufficiently zealous denunciation of Bad Think is their greatest crime. It implies you are yourself guilty of harboring Bad Thoughts.

        • Happened to turn the radio on, and that Southern almost-redneck priest on EWTN (heaven help me, I can’t remember his name– not much accent, but he’d be AWESOME to have a beer with, and his theology is delightfully down to earth yet informed) was going into detail on some bit of Ezekiel–
          the parents have eaten bitter grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge
          — and how Himself had Ezekiel ordering them to NOT use that, because each is guilty of his own sins, and credited for his own goods.
          Really hammered on it.
          And then he got to a bit about the people of Israel saying His ways are unjust, and He says unto them, no, yours are….

          I’m reading the whole dang book, again, even though I have very low tolerance for attempting to describe indescribable visions, because it seems oddly timely.

          And you know what? If there’s a book of the Bible you want to be timely– EZEKIEL IS NOT IT!

        • Shorter version:
          apparent parallel between the about-to-be-smote Israel re: group guilt vs individual guilt, and also good people doing bad things/bad people doing good things, and SJW.
          With added accusations against the Lord, that Him not letting them punish the children for the actions of their parents was “unjust.” Really rang the odd definition of “justice” that SJWs support bell.
          So now I’m trying to go through and see if it holds up….

  22. I have only run across two books I couldn’t read: “Fury” (author unremembered; thought it was van Vogt, but wasn’t) and “Catch-22”. C-22, read the first 5 chapters in ’64 or ’65, could make no sense of it. Left it at home. Later, after AF training, picked it up and took it to my first assignment, read it and found it hilarious. Fiver years later, reread it; found it tragic. 5-10 years later, read it again and got both funny and tragic.

    • Catch-22 is one of those books that only makes sense after the world has instilled a certain degree of cynicism.

      And that’s a shame, because otherwise it might serve as a nice warning.

      • The mistake most people make about Catch-22 is thinking it is an anti-military book. I understad the author has stated his intent was to write an antibureaucracy book and only set it n the military because that was the largest, most familiar bureaucracy f that era. Happily, thanks to millions of dollars of government investment this is no longer the case.

    • Close. It was Henry Kuttner, one of van Vogt’s contemporaries.

      I read the first quarter, then skipped through to the end. I don’t think it got any better. Which was odd, because Kuttner was pretty sharp with the short form.

      You might also be thinking of van Vogt’s “The Violent Man”, which was a mainstream novel, not SF. It’s quite a bit different from van Vogt’s usual writing.

      • No, I distinctly remember the novel was titled “Fury”. I would have been a teenager when I picked it up. Likely at our local library, as I think it was a hardback.

  23. William O. B'Livion

    > As they usually tell us about drugs and the more outre
    > sexual explorations “How do you know you won’t like it till you try it?”

    Because it’s not whether I *like* it or not that matters.

    It’s whether it’s something that is wise and good to advocate to *the entire population as a whole*.

    There are people who can do Heroin on a regular basis (not daily, but more than once or twice) and never get hooked. Their experience does not mean that opiate use is without risk, or wise.

    There are some people who can handle polyamory, in various forms, without problems. They are, like the non-addict heroin user, a SMALL percentage of the population.

    Some drugs and sexual practices are relatively safe–there are probably more people allergic to peanut butter than would have problems from sporadic and occasion use of pot. Oral sex with a long term, faithful partner carries no greater risk than any other sexual practice. Doing it with a total stranger is…well, fraught with risk.

    There are lots of things that are fun, right up until you die from them, or lose your mind.

    • The part about the newer strains of marijuana causing a relatively high number of psychotic breaks in teenagers is a big red flashing STOP sign for me. Until we can figure out who is susceptible and why, nopity nope nope on legalization and normalization. Alcohol has proof markings. Pot, thus far, does not.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Aww, come on. Modern pot will be safe as soon as we kill enough people with it as it took to get those nifty alcohol enzymes Europeans have.

      • The strength rating of marijuana, of course, could be addressed by the marketplace (or by (shudder) regulation) if pot were legal. It’s the very illicitness of the substance that makes that sort of quality control problematic. How is it handled in ‘pharmacies’ where the experiment is already in progress (eg, CA, CO . . .)?

        • It’s always been able to drive people mad. Generally, I believe, in the first uses of it. (Or was it the very first?)

          • There seems to be a genetic component, but nobody has picked it out yet. Basically, if you have any predisposition to schizophrenia, marijuana makes you go loony all the way, and maybe psychotic too.

        • Strength/dosage is highly variable by user who can affect that by how deeply the smoke is taken in and how much air is mixed into the inhalation.

          It is a trifle harder for the drinker to vary dosage as readily.

        • Can’t answer the others, but Oregon, still allows the individual to self grow medical for themselves & others. Are they held accountable. H*LL no. Did the inititive supporters state that those & the illegal grows would go away, yes.

          Did I vote for legalization. Double H*LL no.

          OTOH is the state raking in money from the taxes on the legal grows/sales, if not the “home” “legal” medical or illegal grows, heck yes; idiots.

      • New “cute” trick in studies– they remove anybody that was diagnosed with mental issues at any point from the sample. Saw one that removed anyone diagnosed with substance abuse.

        Gosh, didn’t it make outcomes nicer?

      • An acquaintance in Portland OR who works where he sees this stuff reports a local epidemic of kids high on the extra-strong “new pot” who suffer an episode of destructive body dysphoria, and who remove the offending body part (using whatever tool is handy, or even biting it off) — commonly fingers, tongue, or penis.

        As to legalization, I was all for it (entirely to end the destructive “War on Drugs”) *until* I learned that the principle financing behind the legalization push comes from George Soros’ Open Society. Anything Soros wants is not going to be good for us in the long run.

    • The sad thing about the opiates is that it appears that much use of Naloxone — does not save lives on the net, but correlates with higher rates of opiate-related crimes.

  24. Occasionally, I give up on a book as not interesting….then pick it up a couple of years later and find it be worthwhile. ‘The Testing of Luther Albright’, by MacKenzie Bezos (Mrs Jeff Bezos) was in that category.

  25. “Maybe zyr believes that if we don’t actually lovingly spoon mush into zyr’s mouth, and pay for it too we want zyr to starve..”
    It better be gluten free, cruelty-free, organically grown, and locally sourced from the finest hip superfoods, or you will hear such an outrage!

  26. a) used first person, which is apparently a “marker” of bad writing (wouldn’t a lot of immortal writers be shocked.) and b) didn’t engage in pretty-wordage.

    And my first thought on that was, “Oh, like that Mark Twain fellow?” And while Twain might seem to be just a bit wordy now, in his day it was rather something how plain and to the point he wrote – not “literary” but… readable. In fact, the story I thought of was his work which by title sounds perhaps obtuse but is entertaining: Political Economy.

  27. Ideology really doesn’t determine things for me, either. I suspect that I agree with 85 to 90 percent of Ayn Rand’s thinking – and just barely struggled through Atlas Shrugged. (Had to read it, one child had it as an assignment.) L. Neil Smith, about the same agreement, but I can read his stuff.

    Some works will undoubtedly be classics because they speak to certain segments. So long as there is one soldier in the world, Starship Troopers will be read and enjoyed – although Kipling will most likely occupy more shelf space. And, if the backlash we all see coming is particularly severe, some of what we see now from the SJW side will undoubtedly be “classics,” as they will speak to the truly oppressed. (And I think that A Few Good Men will certainly be among those must read works, Sarah – they will have forgotten your politics, just as they have Shakespeare’s.)

  28. “Yeah, there’s also modern literature and that tends to be “literary and guessing” and most of it — thank heavens– will be mercifully forgotten if not mocked by our descendants”

    I hope to live to see the ornaments of Modern Litracha compared, as they deserve to be, to Frederick W. Farrar of ERIC, OR LITTLE BY LITTLE fame.

  29. Sarah, she was the product of the modern educational system. She thought Portugal was a Gallic country and that’s why you gall her.

  30. Your PJ Media rant is attracting some flying monkey air support at Small Dead Animals, Sarah.
    http://www.smalldeadanimals.com/index.php/2018/04/20/the-tolerant-left-4/

  31. plus infinity.