Re: Thunderer

1

Thanks for avoiding spoilers. My copy hasn't arrived yet.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:18 AM
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Lovers of good SF and good blues should ignore the covers of both. That said, cover art is basically the only heuristic for filtering hugely bad SF, and, with fantasy in particular, that can be quite bad indeed.


Posted by: foolishmortal | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:21 AM
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Yeah, what I said on the Crooked Timber thread is something that usually works for me -- not that you can tell if something's good or bad from the art, but that you can tell what market it's aimed at. What messed me up is that the combination of cover art and flipping through a few pages is very reliable for identifying what kind of book something is -- not how good, but what sort. Cover art alone, without the flipping, doesn't work nearly as well.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:26 AM
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2: Quality = 1/(square feet of bare female chest on cover)


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:46 AM
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I'm actually curious -- does anyone else have the same "Ugh. Piers Anthony" response to this cover art, or am I just smoking crack? The paperback cover is better.

And if my reaction isn't totally idiosyncratic, can someone help me figure out exactly what's driving it?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:52 AM
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Not SF or Fantasy but this collection of covers for On The Road displays some of the pitfalls. The 1961 UK, Pan Giant, is the best (4th down right hand column).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:58 AM
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I'm see Piers Anthony, but my main reaction is "There's an awful lot going on there." Blimp pirate ship, city that fills the horizon, the shirt, the floating in the air, the dove. Is he jumping or can he fly? Is the dove supposed to be Holy Spirit type thing? Is he going to stab his tailor?


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:00 AM
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re: 5

God, yes. Or even worse, Terry whatsisname. Of "Shitehawk of Shannara" fame.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:01 AM
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re: 6

The third down, right hand column, is by Len Deighton -- yes, the spy novelist -- in his guise as an illustrator.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:02 AM
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can someone help me figure out exactly what's driving it?

For me, it's the full painted background that's doing it. I associate more spare covers with better books. I have the same problem with the UK editions of Terry Pratchett's books (US; UK).


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:03 AM
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The cover does look a bit like it belongs here: http://worldoflongmire.com/features/romance_novels/


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:05 AM
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I think the cover looks OK. No fantasmagorical beasts, no hot chicks. And having a single-word title is a good sign.

A couple of people sent me books, and in neither case could I summon up either crazed enthusiasm or anything interestingly negative, leaving me stuck for something to write. Sorry about that.

Do what most newspaper/mass-market magazine book reviewers do, spent 90% of the "review" describing the plot and the characters, and then say "You'll like it if you like ___________".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:08 AM
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I didn't see Piers Anthony (absit omen) as such. Just, god, that looks really banal, like a zillion cloned fantasy novels published every year. Not a hint of originality or humour, which is, of course, so not Felix.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:11 AM
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but this collection of covers for On The Road displays some of the pitfalls.

I like a bunch of the covers, but either way you're stuck reading an incredibly tedious, repetitive stream of consciousness.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:14 AM
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but either way you're stuck reading an incredibly tedious, repetitive stream of consciousness.

I think I love you.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:16 AM
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14: I guess it's not Jack Kerouac's birthday!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:16 AM
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8, 13: Terry Brooks also works for me as a descriptor of the cover. It's funny, I wouldn't say 'banal' -- that sounds as if I'm expecting the cover to convey something interesting about the book, and I'm not -- I can't think of a book where I'm actively enthusiastic about the cover art. All I'm looking for in a cover is 'not offputting'.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:16 AM
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re: 17

Oh, lots of books make me want to pick them up just because of the cover-art. The very best graphic design really works for me.

I think I am a frustrated modernist.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:19 AM
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17: That's pretty much me. I don't want funny looks if I read it on the bus.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:20 AM
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14, 15: You're missing the main attraction of reading Kerouac, which is the total warmth and security you can bathe in, knowing that neither Kerouac himself, nor anyone much like him, is going to show up on your doorstep and ask if they can stay on the couch.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:21 AM
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Looks kind of like a Robin Hobb cover to me. Not very captivating.


Posted by: Amber | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:22 AM
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I've gotten annoyed by the cover art on all the foreign crime novels I've been reading. Not one book in a hundred has a human being on the cover, except the occasional silhouette. It's all abandoned playgrounds in winter, leafless trees in winter, icy rivers, cobblestoned streets in winter, and sometimes a knife sitting on top of something.

The four Arnaldur Indriðason novels have virtually the same cover art.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:27 AM
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I heard Kerouac was very insulting of rural Nebraska, so I've refused to read it.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:27 AM
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20. But when I was trying to read him that wasn't yet true.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:27 AM
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Looks a lot like this as well as this. Except that it contains a heroic-looking guy.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:30 AM
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You had a problem with Kerouac wanting to sleep on your couch? I sympathize, but most readers aren't in your position.

(Actually, I suppose if you had a social circle with a fair number of impoverished narcissistic peripatetic drunks prone to showing up, raiding your fridge, and vomiting on your rug, it'd make reading Kerouac less appealing.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:32 AM
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I had the same reaction to "On the Road" as I did to the M*A*S*H movie. That being "These guys are assholes, I hope their rebellion gets squashed by some reactionary authority figure"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:33 AM
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25: Not to me at all. The Mieville books you link (that must be the UK cover art? I don't remember what my copies look like but not like that.) look like a completely different genre to me. There's no cartoonyness about the Mieville covers, and the Gilman cover is practically anime.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:34 AM
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No, it was the "anyone much like him" that struck a chord. They weren't that much like him, but Oh, how they wished they were!


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:34 AM
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knowing that neither Kerouac himself, nor anyone much like him, is going to show up on your doorstep and ask if they can stay on the couch.

Don't bet on that. I've read Kerouac and I've had his sort show up on my doorstep and ask to stay on the couch.

(Actually, watching the antics of Kerouac scholars is the best thing about Kerouac.)

You aren't alone, LB. I remember the thread where Gilman announced his novel and I remember making a mental note at the time to keep an eye out for it and and now I realize that when I saw a copy in a bookstore I passed by thinking "Wow. What an awful cover."


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:46 AM
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Boy, stepped in a pretty intense pile of Kerouac anti-love. Just curious, do folks have the same reaction to Neal Cassady's 2nd act with the Merry Pranksters?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:48 AM
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i thought he was ogged,
how great that he wrote a sequel to the book, one spent time productively since
i wonder whether he thinks of himself as an unfoggedder
congratulations with the book success, felix! if you read


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:50 AM
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The paperback cover is better - even though it actually uses the same background (same ship, same city). It just doesn't have the fop in the foreground, and looks darker and meaner.
Which meant I was able to read it, and enjoy it, without undue embarrassment.


Posted by: Nakku | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:52 AM
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33: So, apparently this is a big issue, which leads to things like the fantasy vaguely satiric Terry Pratchett novels having several different covers, from silly and cartoony, to minimalist, to one that actively mimics the typical i-am-a-man covers (author's name BIG TYPE, emblem or image center, BIG TYPE TITLE), like protective camouflage against bullies who would beat up geeks.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:55 AM
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stepped in a pretty intense pile of Kerouac anti-love.

Not so. I haven't read Kerouac in over a decade, but at the time I read pretty nearly everything he wrote and much of the stuff written about him and the beat scene. I probably have less affection for that period now than I did then, but I'd still put On the Road in any list of my top, say, 20 favorite books.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:57 AM
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I think I love you.

So what am I so afraid of?
I'm afraid that I'm not sure of
A love there is no cure for

If it's going to be stuck in my head, I want some company.

I notice that this chorus would still work if one cleaned up all those dangling prepositions. Rewrite!

So of what am I so afraid?
I'm afraid there is no cure for
a love of which I'm not sure.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:58 AM
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34: Yeah, there are two separate issues -- what the cover signals about the contents, and how embarrassing it is. "Hot chicks" and particularly breasts on the cover were mentioned a couple of times above; those, for example, I find embarrassingly tacky to be seen reading, but I don't usually notice as a negative signal about the contents -- it mostly seems to mean that there's a female character between 12 and 50, and the artist thought half-stripping her on the cover was a good idea.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:59 AM
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31: And while I was being snarky, I found On The Road an interesting read as well. I just also had the very strong "Boy, am I glad these nimrods aren't my problem on a personal level" reaction to it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 10:00 AM
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I don't read nearly enough fictions these days, and when I do it seems often to be in book-at-one-sitting gulps.

But I did read felix's book based on Henry mentioning it, and I think his commentary was pretty much on target. It seems to me that felix (above) suggests he'd rather not discuss it here, so I won't.

SF/Fantasy covers can be terrible.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 10:04 AM
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have to agree with 28 based on the pictures.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 10:05 AM
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It seems to me that felix (above) suggests he'd rather not discuss it here, so I won't.

You mean back when he first mentioned the book? Oy. I read that as "not asking for a review, given the potential of negativity", but given that the book really was awfully good, I didn't think he'd mind.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 10:09 AM
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And no one's even mentioned the godawful typography. That's a sure sign of some bad cover art, right there.

an incredibly tedious, repetitive stream of consciousness.

You forgot "misogynistic".


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 10:12 AM
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i meant how it is great that any of you can just sit down and write a novel
never mind the cover art, though it's bad of course if it hinders the sales or maybe it's helping
i read last week two novels, very soc realistic, one about an alzheimer's patient's wife euthanasing her husband, another one with an elephant paintings,
both sounded like unfogged threads and i thought it's because people who write and read those novels are in the same cultural sphere, so what they think and say is very reflecting what's in their books perhaps and vice versa, so i kinda got why people like the sci-fi books


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 10:14 AM
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41: I wouldn't be negative about it. It sounds like spoilers are an issue too, though.

I don't read much fantasy, although I've got some old favorites (e.g. Gormenghast, Lord Dunsany) and think some of the newer stuff is very good but it's difficult to wade through the acres of shite tripping over post-Tolkien tropes, so I don't bother unless someone has told me I should give it a go; preferably someone who's taste I know.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 10:16 AM
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OT: Odd. I'd forgotten about the boxes of files about John Kerry's anti-war activities that were stolen from Kerouac biographer and Vietnam War historian Gerry Nicosia back in '04.


Posted by: Populuxe | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 10:24 AM
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And if my reaction isn't totally idiosyncratic, can someone help me figure out exactly what's driving it?

From the bio page:

Tom Kidd has worked for a number of publishers: Baen Books, Random House, DAW Books, Warner Books, Doubleday, Ballantine Books, Marvel Comics and Tor Books. [One of those pages said over 200 covers. - m ] He has illustrated two books: "The Three Musketeers" (1998 - William Morrow) and "The War of the Worlds" (2001 - Harper Collins), and there are two books of his art: "The Tom Kidd Sketchbook" (1990 - Tundra) and "Kiddography: The Art & Life of Tom Kidd" (2006 - Paper Tiger). A gallery featuring this book just appeared in the April '06 issue of Realms of Fantasy.
Of course, if you go to his front page here, there's an illustration involving a blimp. But the clincher, if I'm getting this right, is his page of old cover illios here.

My suspicion is that he illustrated one of Anthony's series, and you're having a Pavlovian reaction. (I think one of them was the Incarnations series.)

max
['Massively overwrought composition.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 10:25 AM
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I don't want funny looks if I read it on the bus.

Buy a Kindle. You can read any kind of trash you please and it all looks the same to fellow bus passengers. I realized this recently when I was reading a "pulp noir" about a vampire detective on my kindle.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:01 AM
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Due to crowds, I'm usually standing up on the bus. A Kindle is just too big of a risk.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:10 AM
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I have to say, the track of Kerouac reading that I included here is great.

I'm sure he'd be annoying in person, but he's a great performer.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:13 AM
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5: It looks to me almost exactly like art from an RPG novel or supplement, but I can't think of an exact match at the moment.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:15 AM
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I got an mp3 rip of this album from a now-defunct blog. Kerouac's "Cockroach" piece is very fun.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:15 AM
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I actually like the cover art of the British editions of the Discworld books. They're more interesting than the clip-art-over-fractals on the American editions, and they're busy covers, unlike the more typical novel covers that just show someone in a weird costume striking a pose.

Yet another problem with judging books by their cover is the fact that the same artists with the same styles do the art for very different books. The cover artist for the Xanth series, since people have been talking about Piers Anthony, also does the covers for the Wheel of Time series. Like or hate either of them, those are about as different as multi-volume fantasy novel series can get.


Posted by: Cyrus | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:22 AM
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I am unbelievably sick of hearing about China Mieville. It seems like the Crooked Timber writers have signed some kind of contract agreeing that if he hasn't been mentioned in the last three posts, they have to bring him up again.


Posted by: Adam Kotsko | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:29 AM
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He's a scary looking guy -- possibly threats were involved?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:38 AM
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Hey what's with the China-hawkery? Four mentions in the last two years, as best as I can tell from a cursory search. If I wanted to be mean, I'd compare this outrageous insinuation that we're soft on China to the time that McMuddle accused us of being 'obsessed' with her on similarly scanty quantitative evidence.

And fwiw, China's gentle as a puppy-dog in person despite the scary shaved-head-bloke-with-earring stare in his publicity shots.


Posted by: Henry | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:57 AM
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yeah 53 doesn't seem to match reality very well.

The thread on "Thunderer" had some mention of him, but that's pretty natural given the content.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:59 AM
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I was just kidding -- his books are great, and he seemed charming at the CT event. But Adam's right to the extent that if you asked me unexpectedly "Name fantasy authors who the CT collective thinks well of", I wouldn't have had to think hard at all before coming up with Mieville.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 12:01 PM
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57 - That's fair enough. More seriously I have sometimes thought that it's sociologically interesting that so many people in this neck of the blogosphere have shared tastes in writers such as Gene Wolfe that they presumably acquired independently in most cases, and that obviously don't flow from their politics.


Posted by: Henry | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 12:05 PM
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58: If I were going to make up a theory on the spur of the moment without thinking about it much (oh, look, I am) I'd say that it's got something to do with 'this neck of the blogosphere' as being defined by literary style as much as by politics. When I started reading blogs, for example, I thought I was looking for political commentary, but ended up mostly reading the academic/political blogs -- I like the way academics write and do analysis, even where I haven't got any particular knowledge of or interest in their fields.

So, to the extent the area of the blogosphere you're talking about is in part a matter of a mutual fondness for each others' style of writing, the fact of additional shared literary tastes seems perfectly to be expected.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 12:16 PM
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I can honestly say I have never heard Gene Wolfe, John Scalzi, Iain M. Banks, or Charles Stross mentioned in any context except for political and/or academic blogs. Maybe I don't look at the book reviews very comprehensively, but I remember significant media coverage of Mieville. But not those other guys.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 12:27 PM
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I bought this book for the title, but I'm really too depressed, or possibly not depressed enough, to enjoy it. I still love the cover though.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 12:28 PM
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He's a scary looking guy
He is remarkably attractive in person. And I wouldn't usually go for shaved head with serious muscles. It's probably the combination with big deep eyes, highly intellectual conversation, and a particular sort of politeness/courtesy that, say, serious martial artists are supposed to have. Like he has the vibe that Stephen Segal characters fail so hilariously to have.


Posted by: Mary Robinson | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 12:32 PM
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Like he has the vibe that Stephen Segal characters fail so hilariously to have.

I love this description a lot.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 12:34 PM
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Is the fop perched on the flying ship? In that case, that's an awfully big fop or an awfully tiny ship, and a very uncomfortable position. If he's not perched on it, what the hell is he doing?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 12:35 PM
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64: Um, flying next to it. The picture is not entirely unjustifiable from the text of the book, but the relation between the elements is a little implausible.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 12:38 PM
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If he's not perched on it, what the hell is he doing?

Christening it, perhaps?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 12:38 PM
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about a vampire detective

Is this the P.N. Elrod series, set in the Great Depression? Nothing like great literature, no, but satisfyingly entertaining and pleasingly devoid of the noir trope that women are all trouble, something that bothers me a great deal given how much I otherwise love noiry detective-ish stories.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:09 PM
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the noir trope that women are all trouble

I don't think that's it. All women are trouble, one way or the other.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:11 PM
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I was guessing it was the Joe Pitt series by Charlie Huston.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:11 PM
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I just requested both of Felix's books from the library. I'd meant to do it back when he mentioned the first one here, but I generally require multiple reminders for any given task.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:14 PM
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I would like some credit please for connecting that Felix Gilman with our felix, and for buying the book---hardcover!---before being armtwisted into it and despite my reservations about the cover.

Ahem!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:21 PM
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Mary Robinson

Oh, so we have to resort to Irish presidentiality now?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:24 PM
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71: All credit where due. Although I think I would have remembered from Henry's post alone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:31 PM
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71: You bought the hardback so you could remove the dust jacket, didn't you?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:35 PM
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Don't worry about it, she said magnanimously.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:37 PM
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What's this about removing dust jackets? Don't do that, people, regardless of what the dj looks like.

The morphing of cover art over the years for Samuel Delany's books is amusing -- tending more and more toward something you probably wouldn't want to be seen reading, seeming to advertise content you probably aren't interested in, though it is not so. It'd be interesting to know what the publishing industry's thought process is in this regard.

I admit that I still have never read Mieville.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:43 PM
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When print-on-demand really takes off you will be able to specify book and cover independently. That guy on the subway who looks like he's reading Dostoevsky is actually reading Twilight.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:45 PM
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76.1 Why?


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:46 PM
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And fwiw, China's gentle as a puppy-dog in person

Once you roll on your back in submission, that is.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:47 PM
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77: This will be dreadful (even aside from what print-on-demand will do to the used book trade). One of the best things to do when you're bored on an airplane is to spy on what people within your purview are reading.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:48 PM
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78: Parsi's a used book dealer -- probably something about preserving value. (Although I always thought that the key was to have the undamaged DJ -- wouldn't putting it away somewhere so it wouldn't get messed up in the reading process both preserve value and protect against embarrassment?)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:49 PM
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What's this about removing dust jackets? Don't do that, people, regardless of what the dj looks like.

Don't hate me, parsi, but I remove them relentlessly. They just get in the way, get torn, and hide the solid, honest spine with some precious colors and typography.

AB disagrees strongly with me on this matter.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:49 PM
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78: Oh, just because, if by chance you have a copy of the book in hand that might be worth something, if you've ditched the dust jacket, it ain't worth shit, usually. It's just the bookdealer in me speaking. I've rolled my eyes a few times at people who were all excited at something or other they have, but the dj was tattered or soiled, so they threw it away.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:52 PM
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Speaking of dustjackets, what's the deal with those clear plastic sheets over the dustjacket that you see on books in public libraries (and sometimes in used bookstores too)?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:53 PM
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69 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:56 PM
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84: They are there to protect the dust jacket.

See, the dust jacket is there to protect the cover, but since you have to look at them all the time, you might as well make them look nice. But if they look nice, you want to keep them looking nice, so you have to put another cover over your cover.

The real problem is that those plastic covers get old and dingy.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:58 PM
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69 gets it exactly right.

YMMV, of course.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:59 PM
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83 - I see. I still have difficulty with the notion that a book has value above and beyond the words and pictures inside it, but it makes sense that for resale you'd want something as close as possible to what you would get brand new.

Since I prefer to buy second hand and I'm a cheapskate, I encourage everyone to throw away their dust jackets. A few stains on the covers are good, too. Just leave the words and pictures alone. And for those of you who underline or highlight in books - just go ahead and jam the pen into your eye. Trust me, it's for the greater good.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 1:59 PM
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83: Huh.

I used to save some of the DJs, but that seemed dumb. I save too much stuff anyway.

Regardless, I only have hardcovers of books I intend to keep forever, so it's a rather moot point.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:00 PM
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The real problem is that those plastic covers get old and dingy.

Should probably cover them, then. In middle school we used to make bookcovers out of paper bags. Those would work.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:01 PM
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You shouldn't throw out the jacket, but if you think you might someday want to sell the book, it only makes sense to remove it while you're reading it: a damaged jacket won't reduce the book's value as much as no jacket, but it will reduce the book's value.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:02 PM
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On preview I see that this is pwned, but:

84: They're to protect the dust jacket. It's a mylar cover. Some used bookstores put mylar on jackets either because their stock is valuable and they don't want people wearing the jacket through handling, or because their customers think that hardcovers in dj covered by mylar looks shiny and sexy (you can often up the price of your stock if your books are covered in mylar, which is a bit silly but there it is).


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:04 PM
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89: I used to save some of the DJs, but that seemed dumb.

If it's just a 29th reprint of something, go ahead and throw away the dj.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:05 PM
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I decided to buy a new book (that wasn't a reference or textbook) for the first time in my life last July, but my attempts to prolong the store's 40-year existence failed, as it suddenly vanished and is now "AJ's Burgers and Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:06 PM
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94: But have you tried the chicken? I'm curious.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:08 PM
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bookcovers out of paper bags
or newspapers, or used wrapping papers as i used to, but mostly it were the textbooks
i saw this picture today and felt like pain for the books


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:08 PM
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96


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:10 PM
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88: I still have difficulty with the notion that a book has value above and beyond the words and pictures inside it, but it makes sense that for resale you'd want something as close as possible to what you would get brand new.

This is charming, babe -- a number of people view books the way others view furniture and other objects, basically as (potential) antiques to be preserved and which may gain value as objects in themselves. Yeah, it's weird. But if you ever handle really old printed matter, you begin to get it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:12 PM
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92: So if I buy a book with one of those mylar covers, is it okay to throw away the mylar if I keep the dustjacket?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:13 PM
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I think the whole book is a work of art, not just the words and pictures, but I also think the layers of wear the book acquires are part of the art. I love seeing how other people have marked up old books.

I just received a used copy of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and the previous owner has a genuinely surreal pattern of circling individual words. Here's a randomly selected sentence. (Imagine that the bolded words are individually circled in pencil.)

The third component involves the way the weapons of automatic influence lend there force to those who use them. It's not that the weapons, like a set of heavy clubs, provide a conspicuous arsenal to be used by one person to bludgeon another into submission.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:14 PM
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I keep the DJs on the books on the bookshelf, but pull them off if I'm actually reading a book, as I can't stand to deal with them. I'll put the DJ back on when I finish with the book and return it to the shelf.

I've always thought they helped protect the bokos on the shelves, somehow, from dust, hence the name, although I've never understood how exactly that might work.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:18 PM
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morphing of cover art over the years for Samuel Delany's books

Who wouldn't want to be seen reading this?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:19 PM
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98 - One of my most prized possessions is an illustrated Dictionary from 1911. Both covers torn off. So much cool stuff inside. It's the perfect thing to just flip open and read. Or look at the pictures. I got it when I was 11 or so. I spent hours just flipping from one definition to another, taking bizarre little journeys through the space of everything that has a name.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:20 PM
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99: teo, you can do whatever you want.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:20 PM
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100: I totally would have circled "there" in that example.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:22 PM
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104: Good. I hate those mylar things.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:23 PM
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100: Maybe. But highlighters are the mark of The Beast and when I pick up a book covered in highlighter (used purchased via interwebz, library book) I become enraged not just about the marks, but also at the highlighter-wielding jackass. I hate them.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:24 PM
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Di: That typo is mine.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:24 PM
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Rob: I kinda figured. I was being obnoxious.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:28 PM
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By reacting to just that one stimulus the average mother turkey will behave correctly

Its like reading a superhero comic.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:29 PM
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I think the thing about bad cover art is not so much that it signals something about the content of the book per se as that it signals something about the intended audience or, in particular, the tastes of the intended audience. For me the thought process (to the extent that it's analyzable) isn't "oh, a book about floating dudes and airships and doves -- this is going to suck"; it's more "that's the sort of art that that dude in high school who always carried on about how Led Zeppelin was super-deep because their lyrics were about Tolkien would draw all the time". To some extent it's more of a guilt by association than a direct inference, but I think it's true that people with bad taste have bad tastes that are correlated in particular ways.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:30 PM
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111: but couldn't that be said of sci-fi generally? (Or not? Genuine question.)


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:32 PM
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Uh, so yeah, throw away the mylar, whatever. I'll mention that if you do might have a first edition of something, there's often information on the dust jacket that identifies the book as a first, and without that, it's more guess-work, or just situation unknown.

rob, sometimes previous owner notes can be a selling point, i.e. increase value, for what that's worth. So nobody's saying that books must be pristine.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:34 PM
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I have an unhealthy love of books. Well, unhealthy for the people who have to help me move them.

I think that I have mentioned before that I am predisposed to agree with parsimon on just about anything because of her profession.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:43 PM
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114.2: That's not a good reason, will! You're at least a bibliophile, if not a bibliomaniac.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:49 PM
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"AJ's Burgers and Peruvian Rotisserie Chicken"

Huh. Second Peruvian rotisserie place in town.

Or maybe the other one is Bolivian?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:50 PM
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112: I don't read much sci-fi or fantasy, so I guess I don't really know? Looking at a few of the things that are on my bookshelf, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell has a very sparse cover that I find appealing, and there are some Lem books with mostly white covers with small, understated illustrations. So I think those signal something like "for people with literary tastes/pretensions".

In fact, looking at my bookshelf, the only cover that jumps out as flagrantly clashing with my sense of what is tasteful is a paperback copy of Jane Smiley's Moo. (Google turns up a picture of it.) So either it's pretty consistent that books that I like have covers that I don't find unappealing, or I'm missing out on lots of good books with bad cover art.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:51 PM
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117: oh, my question was unclear. I didn't mean the cover art. I more meant that the sci-fi genre as a whole and "that dude in high school who always carried on about how Led Zeppelin was super-deep because their lyrics were about Tolkien" are closely related in my mind, and at least to some extent in pop. culture at large.


Posted by: Brock Landers | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 2:57 PM
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118: The more it's your kind of thing, the more you pay attention to the fine distinctions. While any fantasy is more likely to appeal to Joe Stoner than Chet Quarterback (wild stereotyping only for the sake of this point), people who actually like the stuff distinguish between the stuff that's aimed at the dumb, annoying type of Joe Stoner, and that's aimed at the rest of us clever and insightful fans.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:04 PM
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Huh. Second Peruvian rotisserie place in town.

Or maybe the other one is Bolivian?

Are you talking about Chicken Latino?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:07 PM
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...people who actually like the stuff distinguish between the stuff that's aimed at the dumb, annoying type of Joe Stoner, and that's aimed at the rest of us clever and insightful fans.

Geek hierarchy margin call.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:11 PM
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119: But then there are examples like I mentioned in 117, or like Battlestar Galactica, which reach people like me -- people who would not characterize themselves as fans of sci-fi or fantasy, clever and insightful or not. And I think for the most part they're examples that conspicuously avoid any of the trappings that could signal "this is for Joe Stoner" to an outsider. Should I read your comments as saying that there's a whole other category, one that to an outsider says "Joe Stoner" but to an insider is clearly better? (Maybe Thunderer is such an example, but it sounds like you were put off by its "Jone Stoner"-ness in a way that you weren't with other examples?)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:12 PM
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122: "Jone Stoner disembarked the Cantabridgian airship with misgivings. The Magnificent Ambersons ruled the City of Worldbuilding, but he had to recover the Plot Coupon before he and the ass-kicking badass Loveinterest O'Kickass discovered that their precisely-timed series of plot encounters led to their falling in mutually-supportive and non-exploitative love."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:18 PM
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Since the rest of you are insisting you are put off by sci-fi fantasy cover art, I'll go head and cop to being incredibly attracted to it. If the cover features several square feet of cleavage, I think "titties, hooray!" The only problem I have is that the content of those books isn't a third as titillating as the covers.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:22 PM
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If you look the changes in the cover art for felix's book between the hardcover and the softcover, you start to get a sense of how the art sends signals.

The softcover image is literally darker, which is appropriate: felix's book is part of the "New Weird" movement, which is dark and literary and fantastical in the ETA Hoffmann sense rather than the sword-and-sorcery sense of Terry what's-his-face or the jolly, punny alternative-world sense of Piers Antony or Robert Aspirin or that nice Discworld man.

The hardcover really screws up, I think, in its choice of image emphasis. What's really neat about the book is the CITY it's placed in, not the blimp-ship that turns into the deus ex machina---although that's cool too, just not as cool. It's the urban environment that provides the book with all of its mythology and back stories and grittiness and cool. Mieville's book covers may be a bit silly, but they do at least emphasize that his novels are about people living on top one another in confined societies. Anyway, Gilman's softcover image puts the city back into the scene, even though that flying ship is still the front focus.

The last signal is the emphasis on the individual. There's a giant category of sf and fantasy that is sort of the book-equivalent of a first-person shooter in video games. You get to wander through a world as the most awesome, powerful, attractive person in it; maybe you have a couple of bad memories of people making fun of you, maybe you need to accomplish some difficult task, but generally you are Teh Shit. I'm thinking particularly mean thoughts about all of the vampire lit series out there. These books almost invariably feature on the cover the awesome person the reader is going to inhabit. Books that don't emphasize the first-person identificatory experience will tend to have more abstract or non-human covers. And then there will be all of the sub-signals about what sort of individual is depicted---busty babe with tattoos? with knives? dreamy men in leathers? with swords? wait---in a multi-colored jester's uniform?

etc.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:24 PM
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Well, for one thing I didn't mean to distinguish myself completely from Joe Stoner -- I meant to distinguish myself from the members of the class 'Joe Stoner' that also have lousy taste. Plenty of 'Joe Stoner's read the stuff I read. But this:

Should I read your comments as saying that there's a whole other category, one that to an outsider says "Joe Stoner" but to an insider is clearly better?

Kinda. Um, for something that's unambiguously nerdy, but didn't set off my 'don't bother buying this' radar, how's the Naomi Novik cover. It's got a dragon on it but it's not tacky.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:27 PM
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125: "Angry Chicks in Leather"?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:29 PM
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100: the previous owner has a genuinely surreal pattern of circling individual words

Was the previous owner John Nash? Otherwise it might an Illuminati thing, and you'll be found dead by some gruesome method in the first 10 minutes of the movie. Make sure to always be wearing clean underwear to be on the safe side.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:30 PM
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127.----I'm more inclined to think of them as "sassy, cranky chicks in leather," but yes.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:33 PM
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129: The Jezebel bloggers, with weapons, in other words?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:34 PM
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Is the link in 127 claiming that Tom Clancy is considered serious and highbrow? (Serious in the sense that Republicans use the word "serious", I suppose.)

I guess he probably does get more respect than writers of vampire romance.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:36 PM
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I guess he probably does get more respect than writers of vampire romance.

Sounds like there's an opening for an enterprising author of vampire romance novels to do a prestige-enhancing crossover effort.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:38 PM
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From the link in 126: "like Jane Austen playing Dungeons & Dragons with Eragon's Christopher Paolini."

I'm trying really hard to imagine what that's like, because I expect it's hilarious, but my imagination is failing me.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:39 PM
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132: "The Vampire of the Kremlin"


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:40 PM
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Tom Clancy + vampire romance novels = World War Z (- romance).


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:40 PM
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Or maybe it's "The Cardinal of the Gremlin"?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:40 PM
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135: I was really surprised by how good that was. Zombies, not usually my thing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:41 PM
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133.---It's not as hilarious as that description makes it sound, unfortunately. I read the first three Novik books, and they're okay.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:42 PM
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Sounds like there's an opening for an enterprising author of vampire romance novels to do a prestige-enhancing crossover effort.

A Clerk's body is recovered from the Potomac with signs an Iranian spy may have been involved. Tensions mount as Vampire Jack Ryan is appointed Chief Justice in this taut potboiler. Written with Clancy's characteristic energy and a view that many swear could only come with an insider's knowlege, Red Mass of Washington will not disappoint!


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:43 PM
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re: 88

A lot of books are beautiful objects. Book design, or cover design can be a fantastic piece of art in itself.

99% of what I buy is disposable paperback literature. But if I had the money, damn, I'd be out there buying up the good stuff.

My job used to regularly require me to handle old books --- really old, often --- and they are just amazing things. I don't get as hands on with them any more, unfortunately.

But seriously, handle a 9th century illuminated Gospel and tell me it's just about the content. And with more modern things --- and that includes mass produced stuff --- it's just a matter of degree.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:43 PM
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137.---It was totally awesome. I loved the failed zombie battle in the Hudson Valley: the weaponry descriptions were almost emotionally moving!


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:44 PM
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132: ""Jone Stoner clasped the Cantabridgian governess to his broad, crystalline chest with with misgivings. His 'Hunter Regiment,' the 75th Air-Land-Sea Magnificent Ambersons, forbade the 'commissioning' of 'Trucas,' or new vampires, without the order of the Joint Chiefs, but Sabrina Miranda-Josswhedon's delicate throat thudded with her pulse, drawing his NuSov-spec nightvision Eyegoggles (pat. pend.) against his will.... He reached for the Desert Eagle, but the swarthy meat-eating antagonist with Nixonesque five o'clock shadow had the drop on him with an Israeli surplus RP-448 tungsten-projectile launcher. Damn, Stoner thought. The Israelis know how to deal with vampires, too. 'Jone!' Sabrina shouted. 'Take my blood' "


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:46 PM
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133: Yeah, I think what I said about them (actually in the post where Felix outed himself) was that if you like that sort of thing, it's the sort of thing you'll like. I do like that sort of thing, but if 'Napoleonic Wars with dragons' doesn't sound good to you, they're not either earthshatteringly wonderful or entertainingly bad.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:47 PM
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I know almost nothing about SciFi cover art, but here is my question from the Dark Ages. The little I do *think* that I know is that Frank Frazetta really set the tone for much of this kind of artwork, which is still playing out today. From Wikipedia, it seems that this cover of Conan the Usurper was particularly influential. Was there a whole bevy of Frazetta types or did he really get the thing rolling in that direction?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:48 PM
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140: But seriously, handle a 9th century illuminated Gospel and tell me it's just about the content.

I had one class in college where we got to look at illuminated manuscripts -- not handle them, but be across the table from someone who was turning the pages to display them. I can't think of what else I've wanted to steal that badly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:49 PM
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Loveinterest O'Kickass

The lobbying of Rah to change his pseud will begin the very moment we are both at home.


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:50 PM
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144.---I dunno. I like the big snake and the shadow recesses in that image, though.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:51 PM
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146: Oh, man would that make me happy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:51 PM
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144: I don't know much, but am vaguely aware of Boris Vallejo as a force for embarrassingness in science fiction and fantasy illustration. But I think he postdates Frazetta.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 3:56 PM
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True fact- I had Frank Frazetta posters on my dorm room wall in college. Mail order from the back of the book.


Posted by: Tassled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:02 PM
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What is the deal with Vampirella, anyway?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:02 PM
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143 - I liked 'em better than 'good enough if you like that sort of thing'.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:06 PM
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152: Oh, me too, but I wouldn't expect them to convert anyone who wasn't predisposed to be open to books about dragons.

They do, how do I put this... some fantasy worlds, the more I read set in that world, the easier it is to sink into it; I know how things work, new pieces of information fit in smoothly, and so on. The Novik books, I found myself getting pickier, rather than less picky, as I went further into the series.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:12 PM
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Hey, while we are talking about books by the unfoggetariat...

I have an extra copy of Watchmen and Philosophy, a collection to which I contributed an essay. I will send it free to anyone who will blog about it.

As a bonus, I'll demand that Lizard send you the copy of Battlestar Galactica and philosophy that I sent her but she never blogged about.

email in name below.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:13 PM
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I was expecting 126 to be a book called Empire by author Ivory Temeraire.


Posted by: Es-tonea-pesta | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:14 PM
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140 - indeed. When I talk about it being about content I'm thinking of things like a third edition of Harry Potter and the $thing. Keeping something like that in pristine condition seems like a lot of effort unless you are either going to turn around and sell it immediately after reading or are planning on hanging on to it for so long that it becomes an actual rarity, neither of which I'm going to do. Given that I'm most likely going to give it away anyway, the effort required to take care of cosmetic factors is hard to justify.

I can see collecting books that are hand bound because of the craftsmanship (in no small part because my dad bound books as a hobby). The craftsmanship associated with machine-bound mass produced trade hardcover is entirely in the design of the machines doing the binding, which I could see collecting if one were Warren Buffet. They are pretty cool machines.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:14 PM
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149: From a bit of searching, Vallejo does look quite big in the field. But it does look like he came along almost immediately after Frazetta. His style seems to be on ample display in this poster for National Lampoon's Vacation (recalled it upon seeing it, but it had otherwise dropped from my memory).


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:16 PM
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And then there's the work of HR Giger, which I suppose I have to admit is very good in some ways, but jesus, it's misogynist.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:18 PM
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I've recently caught my Dad picking up the books I've left facedown around the house when I visit and reading them from wherever I've left them. When I asked if he would like to read my books, he says no, they're time wasters, he can't be reading that trash, do I know of any more good non-fiction like the one about the Hinckley firestorm. Then I walk away and come back to find him reading my trashy books again. (He would kill me for saying this on the internets.) I sent him all the Novik paperbacks in a package and a note promising never to ask him if he read them, but to give them to my sibs when he is done.

But it seems to have gotten lost in the mail. He didn't get them. I will try again.

(I just realized. Lost in the mail, or SO HE SAID. Duhn duhn duhn!)


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:19 PM
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re: 145

Because of a job I had to do at work, I had the Macregol Gospel on my desk for about a week. It's hard to find good images of it online, but it's one of the most beautiful illuminated gospels.

http://www.midirelandtourism.ie/new/attractionsDetail.php?entid=220


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:25 PM
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re: 156

Nah, modern mass produced books can still be beautiful objects of design. No less beautiful because there are more of them.

I'd love to own some of the classic Russian constructivist stuff -- stuff by Lissitzky, or Rodchenko, for example -- or Bauhaus stuff, for example.

I agree that I can't image really taking the effort to preserve really huge run things -- Harry Potter and the whatever. But that's more because they aren't very nice books -- as objects -- than anything to do with mass production alone.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:29 PM
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154: Yeah, that was one of the ones I feel apologetic about. I really couldn't figure out what the anthology was for -- readings for an undergrad class? And the Battlestar Galactica linkage was odd -- mostly it didn't seem to illuminate either the TV show or the philosophy. It left me at sea enough that I didn't know what to say about it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:30 PM
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160: Lucky you.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:34 PM
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162: Don't worry about it. They are a real niche series, but they sell really well.

I gave a talk at a teaching conference about the unsuitability of those books for classroom use and a few other criticisms. I got a small audience of people who thought the books were just the bees' knees.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:37 PM
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I had one class in college where we got to look at illuminated manuscripts -- not handle them, but be across the table from someone who was turning the pages to display them. I can't think of what else I've wanted to steal that badly.

I can top that. I had a class where my tutors and the four of us students got to handle the documents. They weren't books, but 16th century maps.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:40 PM
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161: Nah, modern mass produced books can still be beautiful objects of design. No less beautiful because there are more of them.

Precisely, but it seems to me that the issue we're attempting to resolve here is just what malign influence that cover art which aestheticizes politics has on readers' reception of literature. Frowner has any number of examples of feminist/queer/radical SF novels with essentially fascist cover art. Which is amusing of course, especially if it is apparent that the Frazzetta-Vallejo school artist did in fact bother to read the book or a good synopsis. However, the laughter ends when you realize that this sort of cover art tends to marginalize feminist/queer/radical SF even further, by making it indistinguishable from the general run of dreck on the bookstore shelves.

Have I mentioned before that feeling of vast emptiness, the terrible lonliness of that moment when you walk into a science fiction bookstore that overflows with cheap paperback novels, only to realize that 98% of it is unreadable crap with bad politics? It's an important part of growing up, I guess, but still a desolate epiphany.

Towards a liberatory fantasy and science fiction cover art!


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:46 PM
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164: Was I right that the intended audience was undergrads? It didn't seem to be for a lay-but-interested-in-philosophy audience.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:48 PM
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It's an important part of growing up, I guess, but still a desolate epiphany.

What's really disturbing is looking back on things that didn't register as problematic when I was a teenager.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:50 PM
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What's really disturbing is looking back on things that didn't register as problematic when I was a teenager.

Spung!


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:54 PM
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166: Meet Jone Stoner, man to every woman, woman to every man, vampire space detective with paradigmatic access to (if not membership in or acceptance by) every privileged class, doughnut chef, co-parent.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:54 PM
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168: Oh, I don't know, I have fond memories of all the fascist nonsense I read as an adolescent. I'm not even sure when it clicked over for me. Probably when I started reading William Gibson. Not that his politics are so amazing, but it was a nudge in the right direction.


Posted by: minneapolitan | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 4:57 PM
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I'm not even sure when it clicked over for me.

I had to think for a few minutes, but it was John Brunner. Nice cover on the hardcover first of Stand on Zanzibar, I see.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:05 PM
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That whole SF as Fascism thing is Spinrad's theme in 'The Iron Dream'.

I think the one where it sort of clicked for me was the Dispossessed: which I think I read after the Iron Dream, but with the Iron Dream I sort of understood what it was satirizing but still didn't quite get it.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:11 PM
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Frazetta started a mid-60s fashion at the same time fantasy, or the sword & sorcery variant, became a major sub-genre. I have trouble calling all that stuff "fascist" seems reductionist and simplistic. "Romantic" maybe, which was what we called C J Cherryh and early (very early) George Martin at the time. I think it was Frazetta who did the famous DAW cover for Cherryh's 1st Gate of Ivrel

But heck, the 70s are modern for me. I grew up with the surrealist, Emshwiller and Richard Power's Tanguy and Miro rips.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:12 PM
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Fans are Slans, you know.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:13 PM
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Towards a liberatory fantasy and science fiction cover art!

I remember being really struck -- aged about 10 -- by the cover of 'Hiero's Journey' [post-apocalyptic cheese] because the hero on the cover was sort of hippie-ish, and his buxom companion had an Afro.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:14 PM
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173: Oh, interesting. I wasn't familiar with The Iron Dream.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:17 PM
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Nice cover on the hardcover first of Stand on Zanzibar, I see.

Did that artist do Jagged Orbit, Pavane, Traveler in Black, Carr's Ace Specials 1st series? I used to know names, now I have the books stored away in plastic and boxes.

Power fantasies aren't reducible to fascism and/or sexism, at least not for me. And socialist fiction is hard to make entertaining, because a protagonist contradicts the message.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:19 PM
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172: I came to Brunner via The Sheep Look Up (also has a good cover), and the only other one of his I read was Zanzibar*. And yeah, he helped. (I was a "Randian" for about the time it took me to blitz through the first 2/3rds of The Fountainhead. Finished it in kind of a WTF? exhausted funk.)

*Per some prior discussion of the difficulty of discussing specific authors and books because of sparsity of overlapping readers, I was gobsmacked at the lenght of the list of Brunner's works. Too many books, some of them even good.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:20 PM
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And socialist fiction is hard to make entertaining, because a protagonist contradicts the message.

Which is, somewhat, a theme within The Dispossessed.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:23 PM
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172: Stand On Zanzibar has a huge special place in my heart. It was the first novel I read that actually really challenged me as opposed to being something I just breezed through.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:25 PM
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173, 177: Yes, I think The Iron Dream is a masterful work in the field (and you don't really need to even read the whole thing, but at least read the frame story and enough of it to get the gist of where it is going and then skip ahead to the end).

Spinrad is pretty interesting; he cuts his "satire" very close to the bone. The other book of his that I quite like is The Men in the Jungle. It sounds non-descript, but it is a jolting little treatment of some of the same themes as TID, only Hitler-free.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:31 PM
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Just read a little Barthes on the difficulty of a collectivist ethos or narrative after the Enlightenment refocus on the individual.

Norma Rae focus on the individual = vanguardist, fascist in form wrecking the collectivist content. Ghandi = fascist. All heroism, romanticism may be intrinsically fascist, if we are removing the irony and subtlety from the art. Reds = fascist. The Romantic protagonist narrative will always subsume any collectivist message.

Land & Freedom better, but not exactly big box office. Grapes of Wrath?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:36 PM
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178: Did that artist do Jagged Orbit, Pavane, Traveler in Black, Carr's Ace Specials 1st series?

I don't know who the artist is -- I've had a copy of that first before, but I really don't know/remember.

179: I was gobsmacked at the lenght of the list of Brunner's works.

Me too. I've read just The Sheep Look Up, Stand on Zanzibar, The Shockwave Rider, and a handful of the shorter things from the 80s (Crucible of Time, Compleat Traveller in Black).

There are only a few sf writers whose books I stubbornly keep: Brunner, LeGuin, Delany.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:37 PM
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183: All heroism, romanticism may be intrinsically fascist, if we are removing the irony and subtlety from the art.

What? I think you go too far, sir.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:42 PM
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179,184:Brunnner is seldom worse than very good. He and Silverberg were solid interesting craftsman of space opera before they went New Wave. Some early(pre-65) Brunner space opera is pretty interesting precisely for it's resistance to or irony about heroism.

A lot of pre-New Wave stuff is pretty good that way. 60s PKD was not really that great an exception.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 5:54 PM
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if the cover features several square feet of cleavage, ...

yep

In my personal fantasy world, that's a good portrait of Esther Friesner.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 6:01 PM
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And Spinrad is no big deal to me. Iron Dream was beating a dead horse, fighting a fight that had been won at the time he was writing. At least temporarily.

I mean shit, power fantasies/fascism around 1970? PKD, Silverberg, Russ, Leguin, Tiptree, Delany and other femicommies dominated then. Part of the point of ID is that it only makes sense as a period piece, as about the 30s-50s.

And then that idiot George Lucas ruined everything.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 6:06 PM
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I think that admitting I read in the teenage-heavy-handed-whimsy genre broke the blog. Just to round out the ignominy, I read things with telepathic intelligent horses and cats, too.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 6:18 PM
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Speaking as someone with decades of depressing familiarity with SF art directors and their quirks: Sometimes, the artist doesn't even get to read the book [per one AD: 'It would interfere with your creativity.' Luckily, we knew the author and got a copy of the ms. anyway.] Or, as when my ex slogged through a particularly turgid novel by a Big Name, it turned out that not even the editor had read it. ['Big Name sells; I don't have to read it.] She would have taken pretty much anything with spaceships. Then there was the AD who complained that the finished painting had blank space on the bottom, not the top, where the title was to go. 'Turn it upside down', says my ex. 'Now it's right side up. See, my signature is on the lower right!'

Buzz words tend to be what an artist gets: Fantasy. Hard SF. Deepspace. Elves. Cyberspace. Humour. Who-the-fuck-cares-the-Author-wants-X-artist-and-we-have-to-go -along-with-that. An artist can present sketches that do represent what a novel is about, only to find out that the AD doesn't want the cover to be "too specific". Or thinks the hero, described as a having black hair and skin the colour of Turkish coffee would look better as a pale pink blond.

I never trust a cover to represent a book.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 6:19 PM
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190: That's pretty much what I figured, judging from the pale pink blonds featured on the covers of books about people the color of Turkish coffee. Etc.

Publishing has gone all to hell, I tell you what.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 6:29 PM
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||
No more masturbating to Lux Interior. Now I feel old.
|>


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 6:52 PM
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189: "Just to round out the ignominy, I read things with telepathic intelligent horses and cats, too."

If the cat is telepathic, you wouldn't have to read out loud.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:00 PM
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Then there was the AD who complained that the finished painting had blank space on the bottom, not the top, where the title was to go.

This bit seems strikingly more reasonable that the rest of the parade of indignities in 190.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:01 PM
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Oh! But then I comprehended what was actually going on. It was an exciting revelation.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:03 PM
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192

Fuck fuck. The two Cramps shows I saw are burned in my memory. This was, I mean, fuck, I don't even know. Fuck.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:30 PM
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I mean, shit.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:30 PM
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If a cat could talk, we would not understand him. Or in this case, not Rob either.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:39 PM
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1. How a thread that mentions both Jane Austen and zombies fail at least to mention the Jane Austen zombie novel. Just because Holbo already posted about it at CT doesn't mean you can't pretend not to have made an independent discovery.

2. Jan Tschichold's The Form of the Book is about how design gives a book value beyond that of the text (and funnily enough, the design of this Russian translation makes me really really want it). Tschichold deplored mylar dust jacket covers. I have plenty anyway, on old and first editions.

On preview, the second sentence has maybe too many negatives.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:40 PM
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The Cramps live


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:43 PM
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I can top that. I had a class where my tutors and the four of us students got to handle the documents. at a really wealthy university.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:44 PM
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198: If the cat was intelligent and telepathic, I fail to see why we couldn't understand it with enough time. It would be good practice for the SETI people.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:44 PM
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And, if the cat didn't cooperate, just don't feed it until it does. The cat may have telepathy, but we have thumbs.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:45 PM
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198, 202: John is far too glib with his riffs on the Wittgenstein "If a lion could talk ...". I've said so before, and one day I'll demand a reckoning.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:49 PM
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I'm a reborn maggot using germ warfare


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:50 PM
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199.1: Coming soon to a bookstore near you, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Dragons.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:51 PM
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199.1: There's also the Terminator/Pride and Prejudice crossover.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:55 PM
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204: Wittgenstein may be right about the lion. You can get a cat anywhere, but you'd need an IRB approval somewhere to get a lion.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:55 PM
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If a bear could talk, we couldn't understand him, but by his behavior we might briefly understand that he was either hungry or angry. Like all savage creatures known to Disney, they are harmless unless either starving or annoyed, but they're easily annoyed and haven't figured out how to use their words.

yes, I've said it before.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 7:59 PM
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And then there's The Wings of the Dragon, where Kate Croy and Merton Densher scheme to get the hoard of jewels protected by the dying dragon Mil Lythe'ale.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:01 PM
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206: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Dragons.

Cover.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:04 PM
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199.2: Nice. Tschichold I've heard of, though I don't remember why particularly. Just in the air, probably. Why did he deplore mylar covers? I can construct a story about this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:04 PM
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211: As if Elizabeth Bennet would be caught dead wearing that.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:08 PM
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Re: 209. There are times when I worry that Emerson's keen and lively interest in the psycho-sexual life of bears threatens to become an unhealthy obsession.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:11 PM
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213: She might, if she had to fight zombies and dragons.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:11 PM
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209: Bears do get angry. The last one I talked to complained non-stop that everybody always says "Does a bear shit in the woods" and nobody ever says "Does a bear carefully school her young in the art of finding healthy food in the forest." And bears haven't figured how to use their words, at least not briefly, so she never came close to a catchy saying.

In the end, she settled for my promise to try to popularize "Does a caribou shit on the tundra." So, now I can say I kept the promise and not hide when I see her at Trader Joe's.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:11 PM
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216: And her hair was *perfect*.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:14 PM
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217: And you'd better tell her that within the first two sentences you say. Other than that, all I can say is bring honey, skip the flowers and, no matter how tender of a mood she seems to be in, wear a heavy shirt and leave it on.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:19 PM
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194: Check out Patrick Nielsen Hayden's comment on CT.

http://crookedtimber.org/2009/01/07/thunderer/comment-page-1/#comment-262887


Posted by: Biohazard | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:21 PM
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214: I'm no going to steal your bear's heart away, MC.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:25 PM
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Trader Joe's pina colada's aren't very good.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:25 PM
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For cripes' sake, modern readers sometimes have unrealistic expectations of being spoon-fed perfect signals.

Lookin' at you LB.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:26 PM
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212: From The Form of the Book:

The true garment of the book is its cover; the jacket is merely the raincoat. To protect the jacket itself with an additional one made from cellophane is about as ludicrous as wrapping paper around the protective cloth cover of an expensive leather suitcase.
As it happens, my own copy of Tschichold has some water damage on the back cover, which wouldn't have happened if I'd put the jacket in mylar.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:28 PM
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Tschichold I've heard of, though I don't remember why particularly.

The New Typography, probably.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:29 PM
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Bears and elephants LOVE clover and alfalfa. I know I've said it before but it's true.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:30 PM
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And lots of it for elephants. If you go gray, be prepared to pay.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:33 PM
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I had a class where the other students and I trod Alcibiades' grave. Also, we discussed antient and honorable ideas.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:39 PM
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It's wise to toss it across a 10-foot deep ditch. Elephants don't handle that kind of thing well, whereas large felines occasionally briefly surprise someone.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:40 PM
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I've bought quite a few sci fi books just because of the cover, and never been disappointed. Because, you know, the covers were awesome, and that's why I bought them.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:50 PM
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"It's wise to toss it across a 10-foot deep ditch..."

Now you're just bragging.


Posted by: MH | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:50 PM
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I bought a book I can hardly even read just for the cover, which subsequently fell off! I don't regret it for an instant.

Buy things for the covers!


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:51 PM
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From what I've read, elephants can be a bit tetchy, and they know how to carry a grudge.

Also: I do often judge a book by its cover. Or I pre-judge it, at any rate. Likewise with web sites. When I visit a new site, I know that I am (unconsciously, at least) forming an impression ("worth taking a look" or "looks a bit dubious" or etc) even before I have read any of its content. Is that shallow and close-minded of me? Yeah, probably. But there is just so much stuff out there, and so little time: without some sort of filtering process, I think I would find myself overwhelmed.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:57 PM
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I prefer covers with breasts on them, but I can't stand science fiction.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 8:59 PM
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I bought a book containing nothing but logarithms out to six decimal places, because the cover was so pretty. The cover fell off, so I threw the rest of the book away.

I bought a sci-fi book because the cover featured some kind of multi-armed robot using a machine to summon clones of Hitler from the earth, against a brilliant orange sky. Can't be bad, right? And it wasn't, even though that scene was featured nowhere within.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:01 PM
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I prefer covers with breasts on them, but I can't stand science fiction.

Have you considered other genres, such as medieval fantasy or Regency romance? Or you could just do like Sifu does, and buy the book for its cover.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:09 PM
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Are you talking about Chicken Latino?

Yes.

AB bought a German book about... I don't know what (I think we figured it out at the time) for its gorgeous [hard]cover.

Probably on her flickr site somewhere.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:11 PM
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You can't judge honey by looking at the bee. Bo Diddley getting it done in one minute forty-eight seconds.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:26 PM
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You can't judge the breasts by their cover.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:27 PM
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There's a contest for die schönsten deutschen Bücher sponsored by the German Book Art Foundation every year. (Click on 'Der deutsche Wettbewerb' after the first page.)

I own this book, which was one of the finalists from I believe 1999.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:32 PM
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I bought an elephant just for its cover.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:33 PM
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How are the recipes?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:36 PM
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I haven't made any of them because I've always had the book in the U.S., and measurement conversion is too annoying. The little Krimis are good, though.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:39 PM
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As long as it's not because the ingredients are illegal to obtain.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 9:51 PM
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203: but we have thumbs

Not so fast, hooman.


Posted by: DominEditrix | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:17 PM
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helpy, I would gladly read said book and blog about it in my post-apocalyptic trash-strewn back alley of the internet but I would be coming at it from the angle of fandom, not the angle of knowing a good goddamn about philosophy. My commentary might largely consist of, "First they talk about Nite Owl, and it's awesome, but then they use some big words and it stops being awesome."


Posted by: Robust McManlyPants | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:48 PM
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239 Did you buy it with the recommended "Mord im Weinkeller: 12 Kriminalgeschichten mit ausgesuchten Weinempfehlungen" and if so, what is the wine that goes best with a locked room mystery?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:51 PM
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what is the wine that goes best with a locked room mystery?

Amontillado.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 02- 4-09 11:53 PM
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First rule of thumb: if the cover looks like a reproduction of a painting from one of Saddam Hussein's palaces, you probably won't enjoy the book, unless it was printed before 1965.

Second rule of thumb: never buy an SFF book for any reason except word of mouth. Even if you've read a review by somebody whose books you admire, remember they're an SFF author, and therefore weird. (Weird ain't necessarily a bad thing, but often involves judgments based on criteria from other dimensions.)

Who was it said that if a lion could talk it wouldn't be a lion?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 1:38 AM
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Looking at a few of the things that are on my bookshelf, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell has a very sparse cover that I find appealing, and there are some Lem books with mostly white covers with small, understated illustrations. So I think those signal something like "for people with literary tastes/pretensions".

That's typical for any sf/fantasy writer who's being coopted by the literary mainstream. E.g., the Penguin cover of The Man in the High Castle. Science fiction readers, being unlettered slobs, get the tits and rockets, literary readers get something bland to soothe their jagged nerves about reading something that could be seen as genre.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 3:25 AM
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186: Brunnner is seldom worse than very good. He and Silverberg were solid interesting craftsman of space opera before they went New Wave. Some early(pre-65) Brunner space opera is pretty interesting precisely for it's resistance to or irony about heroism.

Any recommendations for Brunner beyond his social consciousness quartet?


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 3:30 AM
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249 is a good point. It also describes the same process by which Rowling's books were issued with alternative "grown-up" covers for people who were embarrassed to be seen reading kids' books on the bus. The implication is that the publishing industry sees readers of "genre" fiction as infantilised, and I think we should all be duly insulted.

(BTW, is there any recorded case of a better than average bodice ripper being re-issued with a "serious" cover design? Because that's another genre where the artwork is invariably excruciating, regardless of the quality of the book.)


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 3:58 AM
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Bo Diddley getting it done in one minute forty-eight seconds.

It makes me happy every time I see him perform with Peggy Jones - so great to see a woman lead guitarist way back when.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 6:50 AM
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is there any recorded case of a better than average bodice ripper being re-issued with a "serious" cover design?

Oh yes. The entire oeuvre of Georgette Heyer is being republished with pretty Regency portraits on the covers. The bigger names in women's romance, people like Jayne Krentz and Nora Roberts, have managed to get non-bodice-ripping covers. What is reissue, what is even new, is completely impossible to tell from a casual glance-over. Those women can turn that shit out, like 3 or 4 books a year.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 7:01 AM
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re: 252

You ever see Mary Osborne, in her prime?

There used to be some youtube vids, from the 40s, I think when she was really cutting edge. But they aren't up any more.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjURzRWF88M

That's mostly audio with a slideshow, she was rocking back in the 50s.



Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 7:01 AM
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Ah, they aren't on youtube anymore. But still on google vids and dailymotion.


http://www.dailymotion.com/relevance/search/amico/video/x15y45_hawkinsive-found-new-baby_music

http://www.dailymotion.com/relevance/search/hawkins/video/x15ppd_coleman-hawkins-just-you-just-me_music

She was pretty much in a minority of one -- as a woman instrumentalist -- in that scene.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 7:05 AM
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Guitar solo in 1st vid. Begins about 4 min in.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 7:11 AM
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252. This is Sister Rosetta Tharpe singing and playing guitar in 1944. I can't find her better shit with Lucky Millinder from 1941 on line, but she got a much more modern, rock and roll tone in those sessions.

This gives a brief clue of what she could do once the technology caught up with her abilities.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 7:16 AM
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Mary Osborn was the shit.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 7:18 AM
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re: 257

Yeah, Tharpe had a really over-driven tone, really early. Listening to quite a lot of guitar from the 40s -- it's a personal favourite period -- it's amazing how much of what was played as early as 1939/1940 sounds like rock'n'roll from the mid 50s.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 7:19 AM
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re: 258

Yeah, you don't get people of the calibre of Coleman Hawkins and Art Tatum choosing you to back them up without being pretty damn good.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 7:21 AM
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Any recommendations for Brunner beyond his social consciousness quartet?

Noting that it's been 20 years or so since I've read most of these and no one seems to be bothered to post the cover blurbs (or the covers) which makes it a bit difficult to remember the ones I didn't think were so good: Sanctuary in the Sky, The Long Result, Born Under Mars [Good, not great], Timescoop [Same], The Dramaturges of Yan, The Stone That Never Came Down, The Webs of Everywhere, Total Eclipse, The Infinitive of Go [No, really?], Players at the Game of People, The Crucible of Time, The Best of John Brunner. The last couple of novels were long, and not good in the 'trying too hard' sense. Particularly Children of the Thunder.

Trolling through the short story lists, I see Concerning the Forthcoming Inexpensive Paperback Translation of the Necronomicon of Abdul Alhazred, which had slipped my mind.

max
['Is there no love for Battlestar America?']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 7:56 AM
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I liked Squares of the City; which is barely SF.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 8:07 AM
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I remember thinking Squares wasn't that great, but I don't remember the book itself, and I do not know why. (If I started reading it again, I'd be like 'Oh, this one!' and then I'd remember.) But that was in the period when I was reading all that 60's stuff and the earnest social consciousness thing (and the psychedelic thing) could wear due to overexposure.

max
['But it never wore as badly as the 80's thing of 'everything must end like Star Wars'. Yuck.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 8:21 AM
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252: Apparently (and my ...ahem ... source on this is YouTube comments) that is actually Norma-Jean Wofford (Pittsburgh native), who worked with him after Peggy Jones left the band.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 8:37 AM
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263: Eh, I read it pretty young, to the point that I may have been impressed by its grown-up social-consciousness. Come to think of it, as I remember the central conceit, it seems hard to believe the book could have been much good.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 8:40 AM
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224: The New Typography, probably.

Yes! Thanks.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 8:43 AM
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256: From North Dakota.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 8:55 AM
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265: You might be right to have liked it; I have it noted in my head not to read again, no idea why, but that's why I didn't include it in the list. I probably read it around the same time (but at a slightly older age) you did. That probably means nothing.

(Brian Aldriss wrote a sex book in the 60's, and boy, was it was creaky and not so much with the sex. OTOH, The Long Afternoon of Earth remains most excellent. I could probably reread the sex book again without problem; it wasn't bad.)

max
['Unlike some other books I could think of.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 9:24 AM
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I've got the _Squares of the City_ already, but since I'm not really into the central conceit of the novel, and it's spoiled for me anyway I've never read it.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 9:27 AM
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E.g., the Penguin cover of The Man in the High Castle. Science fiction readers, being unlettered slobs, get the tits and rockets, literary readers get something bland to soothe their jagged nerves about reading something that could be seen as genre.

Where does the cover to the Vintage edition fall on this continuum? I need to figure out what I am.


Posted by: washerdreyer | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 10:09 AM
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263,265,268,269:And here I'm thinking I would like to revisit the Squares, with my new understanding of early 60s hyper-Keynesian elitist control and manipulation, especially in Great Britain.
I remember the Brasilia-like environment, and maybe a LeCarre kind of surface plot. Now I would look at Squares as a direct attack on modernism and neo-liberalism.

The central conceit was of course a metaphor.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 10:10 AM
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270: Definitely literary.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 10:24 AM
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Here are some decent Amazon reviews.

I don't really know if Squares is too early to be called "Post-Modern" or not, and don't know what Brunner had read.But one point of the novel is that all the conflicting narratives of the observed events may be arbitrary and pointless. The protagonist supposedly independent moves are really controlled by the oligarchs, who aren't really moving independently themselves but following an authorial intention, except that the author has himself ceded control of the narrative to an 1892 chess game.

50 years of postmodernism and we are still compelled by notions like "plot" and "character", as if they made any sense.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 10:32 AM
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[Reads reviews.] Wow. I totally remember [reading] the chess game in the back of the book, still don't remember the contents. Weird.

max
['That rarely happens.']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 10:38 AM
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50 years of postmodernism and we are still compelled by notions like "plot" and "character", as if they made any sense.

Who woulda thunk?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 10:44 AM
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Damn, got me going on this stuff, when I should be dissing Obama else where. Certainly Squares is Brunner commenting on Joyce/Mann/(The Centaur Magus?) before he moved to Dos Passos.

Look for me it is not "Leo & Steve visit the hospital" it is "History of English Language viewed as a parturition meets slaughterhouse/running of the bulls as declaration of the Flesh made Logos in a demonic transubstantiation."

The Schema is figure and the naturalism is ground, not the other way around. Any amateur who attempts the book realizes it instantly, and is repelled, and apparently it is only teachers that think Ulysses is a "story" about "people". The authorial intrusions are front-and-center (as if they ever aren't) and the authorial intrusions are what the book is about. This was not a style or fashion but a scientific discovery (relativism) that contingent, encoded, or arbitrary perspectives are all we have, and will ever have. There is no narrative, there is no character, there is no reality.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 10:59 AM
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There is no narrative, there is no character, there is no reality.

You oughta know not to stand by the window
somebody might see you up there
I got some groceries, some peanut butter
to last a couple of days


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 11:16 AM
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Ain't got no speakers
Ain't got no headphones
Ain't got no records to play.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 11:18 AM
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Who was it said that if a lion could talk it wouldn't be a lion?

Certainly not a lion; they can't talk.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 11:27 AM
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I'm not even sure when it clicked over for me.

Going all the way back to this, it's a tricky question for me, because I stopped reading SF for a long time, and when I came back to it my tastes had changed. So it isn't easy to pick a SF book that marked a turning point in my tastes.

Thinking about it however, you could make a case for Spider Robinson. His introduction to "Spider vs. the Hax of Sol III" in Time Travelers Strictly Cash made a strong impression on my as an argument for critical humility.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 11:40 AM
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270: that's a literary cover harkening back to a half-remembered sense of early sixties paperback design. Ironically, it's just as meaningless a cover as the genre covers this thread has been complaining about.


Posted by: Martin Wisse | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 12:46 PM
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There's been a fair bit of discussion of book covers on tor.com, I think by Jane Lindskold.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 5:31 PM
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Thanks for the pointer, emir. Here's a link. She's saying that she thinks a few of her covers actively damaged her career, and from the look of it, I'd say she was right. I don't really know her work, though.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 5:49 PM
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194: Check out Patrick Nielsen Hayden's comment on CT.

Oh, LB, and then you say you are ashamed of yourself! But you should not be, and PNH is being prickish.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 5:52 PM
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284: Prickly, maybe; I'm not sure about prickish.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02- 5-09 6:30 PM
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