21 December 2020

Currently Reading: The Stars My Destination


Tiger! Tiger!


My first read of 'The Stars My Destination' was a several years back and, it didn't take.
I had forced myself to continue reading it, begrudgingly, and by the time I had finished I was at a loss.
I felt as if I had missed the things that so many others said made this a great piece of sci-fi.
I didn't get it.
I was frustrated.
Sometime later I would read 'The Demolished Man'.
Though I tracked a little better through Bester's writing, there was still some dissonance between his word craft and my ability to visualize the story.
I simply concluded that I struggled with Bester and left it at that.

Bested by Bester.


During the first part of 2020 just as Covid was ramping up, we went to Albuquerque to do a book fair. This was March and things were just becoming tweaky with travel and events, ultimately the fair was cancelled because of it...an hour after we arrived in town.

Poor Little Book Fair Sign :/

Either on the way there or back, probably both, we listened to the audio book of Neil Gaiman's 'The View From The Cheap Seats' read by Gaiman.
In his words the books is, in part "...a motley bunch of speeches and articles, introductions and essays."
It's quite excellent and I very much recommend it, especially the audio book.

In it Gaiman has included his introduction to the 1999 Science Fiction Masterworks edition of 'The Stars My Destination'.
After listening to it I warmed up to the idea of giving the story another read...at some point.
Gaiman reading Gaiman is a compelling listen.

FF>> a few months.

I grabbed 'The Stars My Destination' almost as an after thought as we were packing to leave Colorado...forever?
There were so many books I could have grabbed but when it showed up in a box I was sorting I grabbed it thinking maybe now?
I'm certain that decision was based entirely on Gaiman's introduction.
The other day, having finished Aldiss's 'Starship' I went for another book to read and pulled 'TSMD' from the middle of a small stack.
I flipped the book to a page, Foyle's Merchant Marine record stared back at me.

               FOYLE, GULLIVER ------ AS-128/127:006
                    EDUCATION:          NONE
                    SKILLS:             NONE
                    MERITS:             NONE
                    RECOMMENDATIONS:    NONE

                       (PERSONNEL COMMENTS) 
           A man of physical strength and intellectual
           potential stunted by lack of ambition.
           Energises at minimum. The stereotype Common Man.
           Some unexpected shock might possibly awaken him,
           but Psych cannot find the key. Not recommended
           for promotion. Has reached dead end.

Something in that statement resonated with me, something familiar...something fatalistic.

And just like that I had begun 'The Stars My Destination' once again.

I am however taking to heart a couple things from Gaiman's introduction.
The first, a play on Heraclitus:

"You can no more read the same book again then you can step into the same river."

The second, a word of warning:

"The vintage of the book demands more work from the reader than he or she is used to."


So, what shall it be for Bester and me:
"Death's my destination" or "The stars my destination"

24 DEC 20
 Got it. 

11 December 2020

Currently Reading: Starship


Another atrocious cover...


I prefer the original UK title 'Non-Stop' to the American version shown here. Though both appropriate, 'Non-Stop' has a better feel in regards to a generational starship...imho.

This is my first venture into this sub-genre but one I've been interested in for some time. I'm fascinated by a journey that would take generations to complete. Complications, naturally, would arise between beginning and end of that journey.

There is a solid history to this sub-genre and I've decided to start the exploration here with Aldiss, and why not?
Just prior to leaving Colorado I had read this entry in
The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Science Fiction by John Clute and was intrigued.

'Brian Aldiss has been likened to his friend and colleague J. G. Ballard more often than either could probably care to recall. But Ballard writes dense, monomaniac books, attacking the same themes again and again, and his work cuts deep and narrow, while Aldiss has an exuberant, gregarious, far-seeking imagination, rarely repeats himself, and writes a great deal. He is harder, therefore, to pin down. In the end, however, he is almost certainly a more significant figure than his dark twin.'

 I thought I had a copy of Starship in the boxes of Neutral Good books but I was mistaken. Fortunately I found a copy in Fargo last week and now I'm aboard 'Ship' and moving through 'ponics towards 'Forwards'.


Cordwainer Bird

 'I don't mind you thinking I'm stupid,
but don't talk to me like I'm stupid.'


Ellison was hired as a writer for Walt Disney Studios, but was fired on his first day after Roy O. Disney overheard him in the studio commissary joking about making a pornographic animated film featuring Disney characters.


 Ellison on occasion used the pseudonym Cordwainer Bird to alert members of the public to situations in which he felt his creative contribution to a project had been mangled beyond repair by others, typically Hollywood producers or studios.
Ellison said, in interviews and in his writing, that his version of the pseudonym was meant to mean "a shoemaker for birds" or that it is of as much use as shoes to a bird.
 Stephen King once said he thought that it meant that Ellison was giving people who mangled his work a literary version of "the bird". 





27 November 2020

Currently Reading: The Snow Queen

I seem to be on an unintentional run of
 Hugo winners as of late...fine by me.



Sometimes I feel like a bottle thrown into the sea, carried endlessly on the tide,
never reaching a shore.
The message I carry, the meaning I try to give my own life, is never realized...
because no one is ever interested.


23 November 2020

Currently Reading: A Case of Conscience


Ballantine Books
Richard Powers art.




On and on the text ran, becoming more tangled, more evil, more insoluble with every word.



 Almost all knowledge, after all, fell into that category.
It was either perfectly simple once you understood it, or else it fell apart into fiction...
all knowledge goes through both stages, the annunciation out of the noise into fact, and the disintegration back into noise  again.
The process involved was the making of increasingly finer distinctions.
The outcome was an endless series of theoretical catastrophes.


 All that remained of it was a sensation, almost the taste of the words, but nothing of their substance.



 Belief and science aren't mutually exclusive -- quite the contrary.
But if you place scientific standards first, and exclude belief, admit nothing that's not proven, then what you have is a series of empty gestures.



Book One of 'A Case of Conscience' (as I understand) is the original novella published in the September 1953 issue of
IF: Worlds of Science Fiction.
If the story had ended there I would have had plenty to think on, let alone to deal with that stunning end.
Fortunately there is a whole second book ahead of me as I devour this fantastic bit of 'sci-fi'.


20 November 2020

Currently Reading: After Dark

 Atrocious cover art



A brief mention: Rangings 2 


Silver John and The Long Lost Friend




The Tales of John the Balladeer

Dark ambient music by: Out of Orion




On YouTube...of course. 

Based on Silver John Stories...definitely watching this.





11 November 2020

Currently Reading: Dune_Second Half


Second Half


And the price we paid was the price men have always paid for achieving a paradise in this life -- we went soft, we lost our edge.



Then, as the planet killed him, it occurred to Kynes that his father and all the other scientists were wrong, that the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error.



 Yet, it is possible to see peril in the finding of ultimate perfection.
It is clear that the ultimate pattern contains its own fixity.
In such perfection, all things move toward death.



 The differences in the ways he comprehended the universe haunted him -- accuracy matched with inaccuracy.
He saw it in situ.
Yet, when it was born, when it came into the pressures of reality, the now had its own life and grew with its own subtle differences.



 How often it is that the angry man rages denial of what his inner self is telling him.




One of the brotherhood of prophets. (A term of scorn in the Imperium, meaning any "wild" person given to fanatical prediction.)


"Do you have any idea who this Muad'Dib could be?" the Emperor asked.

"One of the Umma, surely," the Baron said.
"A Fremen fanatic, a religious adventurer. They crop up regularly on the fringes of civilization.
Your Majesty knows this."



The eye that looks ahead to the safe course is closed forever.



"I never knew the city man could be trusted completely," Stilgar said.
"I was a city man myself once," Paul said.

These city people have Fremen blood.
It's just that they haven't yet learned how to escape their bondage.
We'll teach them.


09 November 2020

Rangings: 3...V for Filk

The Detroit Lakes area has not been completely devoid of things to pick up at the thrift stores. At least, the things I like to pick up anyway.
Granted I would like to be finding more books, but I feel that that may be stretching it for this area.
I'm not suggesting people don't read around here, it's more so that I'm not finding the types of books or genres I'm looking for.

Deep down I feel that there's a hidden trove of treasure around here...somewhere.

But for now, here's the stuff in hand.



V: The Original Miniseries - VHS: 2 Cassettes
Warner Home Video, 1995

From the Wiki:
'Inspired by Sinclair Lewis' antifascist novel It Can't Happen Here (1935), director–producer Kenneth Johnson wrote an adaptation titled Storm Warnings in 1982.
The script was presented to NBC for production as a television miniseries, but the NBC executives rejected the initial version, claiming it was too "cerebral" for the average American viewer.
To make the script more marketable, the American fascists were recast as man-eating extraterrestrials in order to capitalize on the popularity of franchises such as Star Wars.'

Isn't it just like Sci-Fi to so graciously provide of its self a wide and clear avenue for writers to express unpopular or complicated concepts and ideas to an American viewer caste under the guise and sacrifice of being known as a simple or childish genre.


What I know is this, that in 1983 this was a not to be missed event,
especially for young dorks such as myself.
I remember going over to my friend Ray's house after the airing and in his room in a dank and mildewed basement, leaning against a wall was a piece of plywood spray painted black with a large red 'V'.
I was 14, of course I thought that was the coolest.



V: The Final Battle - Snap Case DVD (sealed)
Warner Home Video, 2002

The 'Final' Battle...?


V: The Complete First Season - DVD
Warner Home Video, 2010


  V: The Complete Second Season - DVD
Warner Home Video, 2011

Someone got rid of their V media...my gain!

I sorta kinda like this remake of the series but only in a passing kind of way.
I vaguely remember watching it when it aired and then only sporadically caught episodes. I know for certain I didn't finish the second season, possibly didn't even start it.
I started re-watching the first season again, I do enjoy stories of humanity being menaced by external forces beyond their control, weary groups of people hiding and banding together to defeat an enemy.
It's comforting escapism for me.
There is one exception though...Independence Day.

ID:4...fuck off, I hate that fucking movie!

But not as much as I hate Starship Troopers...simply insulting.



Buck Rogers in the 25th Century - VHS
GoodTimes Home Video, 1987

'Duck Dodgers, in the 24th and a half century!'

No, no , no, it's...


Yes, that's it.

Mel Blanc: Man of a Thousand Voices.


Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader - VHS
2 cassette & 1 cassette EP version
Public Media Video, 1989

 Closing in on completing this set,
looking for The Silver Chair.



Golden Book Video, 1987

Will Vinton studios provides the claymation. This is the second vhs I have of his work, the first being Rip Van Winkle...which I quite enjoyed.

Fred Savage stars.



Jules Verne's: Mysterious Island - DVD
Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment, 2002

Harryhausen...'nuff said.



Dark City - Snapcase DVD
New Line Home Entertainment, 2001

I don't remember anything about this movie, time for a re-visit. 


A Nightmare on Elm Street - Snapcase DVD
New Line Home Entertainment, 1999

How does Robert Englund not get mentioned
anywhere on this case?!
Interior...No Englund.

 Back...No Englund.
 Johnny Depp...Thbbft! Ack!



The Night Stalker
Kino Lorber, 2018

I discovered 3 of my all time favorite shows in the 80's watching WGN out of Chicago:

The Twilight Zone
Kolchak: The Night Stalker

Little wonder that in 1993 I feel in love with
The X-Files...the die had already been cast.

This Kino Lorber issue is a restoration of the original shot on 35mm film to HD in 4K.
I'm not a fan of the ultra clean look of HD, BlueRay, 4K, or whatever the newest intense, sterilized, un-naturaly colored and overly saturated viewing experience our media overlords are forcing upon already bloodshot eyeballs.
Gimme grainy and soft any day, it just adds to the atmospheric of the story as far as I'm concerned.
I will give this a go however, on strength of the show and the fact that all I have is outdated hardware to run it on anyway.

1972 was meant to be grainy.


Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak...a beautiful thing.


Haggard, H. Rider: When the World Shook
Del Rey / Ballantine, 1978

I always get a little thrill when I find a paperback in a thrift, or anywhere for that matter, that's 40+ years old and in near fine to fine condition...it blows my mind.
How books like this don't command more money than they do is beyond me...truly.

Some minor scratching to the covers and a bend to the upper corner (probably due to poor storage).
No browning to the interior covers...amazingly.
Clean and in unread condition.

What would you price this at?


Van Vogt, A. E.: The Voyage of the Space Beagle
Manor Books, 1976

A 'fix up' book consisting of 4 separate stories centered around the missions of the Space Beagle.

Black Destroyer
War of Nerves
Discord in Scarlet
M33 in Andromeda

I read 'Black Destroyer' earlier in the year, still need to get on 'Discord in Scarlet' so I can make my own decision on how closely Alien was modeled after those stories.
I didn't see it in 'Black Destroyer'.

I did enjoy Van Vogt's style though and wonder if he wrote any fantasy based stories.
 Andreas Vollenweider: Down to the Moon - CD
CBS Records, 1986

I do enjoy the look of old tymey CDs.

Tri-Destiny: Dragon Wine - CD
Sleepless Productions, 2001
Ren Fest girls!
Stated on back cover:
'Pat. Pending: Any 3-D object inside a jewel case.'
I wonder how that turned out?
I do like the key however. 

 I fished out a nice pile of Filk / Parody / Demented from a rack of CDs...all new to me.
I dig the stuff from the late 90's & early 2000's, a 'simpler' time on the internet and heady days of geekdom...imho.
I'm still very much working my way through these.

the great Luke Ski: Uber Geek - CD
Gnome Productions, 2002

1 sealed, 1 open

'Fanboy'...dig it!

the great Luke Ski: Worst Album Ever! - CD
Gnome Productions, 2003

Parodies and original songs from Luke.

the great Luke Ski: Carpe Dementia - CD
Gnome Productions, 1999
Insane and the Brain!

 the great Luke Ski: What a Ripoff! Volume 1 - CD (sealed)
Gnome Productions, 2008

Worm Quartet: Stupid Video Game Music - CD
Rydas Records, 2001

Just scratched the surface with this one but
what I've heard I like...good job everybody.

Tom Smith: Debasement Tapes - CD
Pretzel Production, 1999

Would like to find more by Tom.

Tony Goldmark: Masterpiece Weirder - CD
'Don't Quit Your Day Job' Records, 2001