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SF-LOVERS Digest Volume 6, Issue 55 [message #7027] Tue, 31 July 2012 00:04
Anonymous
Karma:
Originally posted by: utzoo!decvax!ucbvax!ARPAVAX:UNKNOWN:sf-lovers
Article-I.D.: ucbvax.8764
Posted: Tue Oct 12 02:50:27 1982
Received: Sun Oct 17 03:22:31 1982

>From SFL@SRI-CSL Tue Oct 12 00:01:07 1982

SF-LOVERS Digest          11-Oct-82	       Volume 6 : Issue 55

Today's Topics:
    Violence, Lem, Invaders in Bay Area, Jedi, E.E. Smith, 
    Le Guin's THE COMPASS ROSE

----------------------------------------------------------------------

From: duntemann.wbst @ PARC-MAXC
Date: 12-Sep-82 21:30:49 EDT
Subject: Peace Makes Dull Reading
To: SFL@SRI-CSL

I sympathize with the chap who bemoans the preponderance of violence
in SF.  I refuse, in fact, to see Bladerunner because of the nauseating
descriptions garnered from friends.

But consider what SF is:  NOT prediction, but entertainment.  Every
creative writing course I ever took stressed that without conflict, you
don't have a story.  There are many different kinds of conflict, but
the easiest to concoct (and apparently the most attractive, judging
from the box office take of such pasture puddings as "Halloween" and
"Friday 13") is stick-em-in-the-guts violence.

Remove conflict from SF and what you have are travelogs.  Clarke has
done whole books of such travelogs, written as speculation but wailing
for incorporation into works of fiction.  In fact, his novel "Imperial
Earth" was almost utterly without conflict, and came across pretty much
as a travelog of Earth in the year 2350, when all our problems have been
oh-so-neatly (and I damned well didn't believe any of it) put to bed.

I write regularly, and I publish a few stories a year.  I have
tried writing "idea stories" which underplay conflict, and I get them
bounced an awful lot.  Gotta have conflict, sayeth the rejection slips.

Sadly, only a few stories come to mind as lacking heavy violent conflict.
One obscure one is "world in a Bottle" by Kim Lang, and no, I don't even
remember where I read it.  Also, "Shortstack" by (I think) Henry Kuttner.
It's rough to do a whole novel without violence.  Maybe "The Gods
Themselves" by Asimov.  I may think of others and put them forth.

But honestly, peace makes for dull reading.  If handled well, violence
in fiction can be a warning.  If handled badly (as in Bladerunner) it's
nothing more than playing to our adrenals for bux.

Nytall,

Jeff Duntemann

------------------------------

Date: 13 Sep 1982 11:36:19-EDT
From: csin!cjh at CCA-UNIX
To: spac.gatech at udel-relay
Subject: violence in SF
Cc: sf-lovers at sri-csl

   Let's leave aside for the moment the obvious answer that \some/ sort
of conflict is necessary to motivate the tale---otherwise you end up with
what Harlan Ellison sneeringly calls "pink-and-white bunny rabbit stories".
   First, note that you have grouped together a number of people with very
different slants; Haldeman concludes that war in space is likely because we
won't have adequately put down the flippos who love to make war here on Earth
(consider the first officer and non-com in THE FOREVER WAR, both of whom took
cuts in rank to get into action).
   Second, SF comes out of a violent tradition that is only gradually being
shaken; just as horse opera needs gunfights, space opera needs space battles
(Consider Doc Smith, "worldwrecker" Hamilton, and others of their period).
Note that various authors have worked against this; half or more of the heroes
of the Foundation trilogy are those who use trickery of one sort or another to
\\prevent// a conflict (the downfall of Bel Riose, the final defeat of the
Mule).
   In post-World War II SF I'd say the majority of stories don't deal directly
with armed conflict. You mention Retief, who is certainly violent on a small
scale and who in at least one story brings in plans that tip the balance in
an invasion of a planet; I would counter with Flandry, who has promoted some
wars but has generally worked to delay the final battle by using whatever
underhanded means he has available (and Flandry is hardly an unmitigated
hero; Anderson is not being coy when F's archenemy tells him they two are
much alike).
   Considering more recent times, I don't think any of Le Guin's heroes are
military people; some of them muddle because they are thrust into political
conflicts but they are always working for a peaceful solution. And for a
capper look at this year's Hugo winner, DOWNBELOW STATION: the people who come
out looking best are those who break out of the imperium vs. colonies
struggle and make themselves an independent entity.

------------------------------

Date: 11 Sep 1982 22:00:45 EDT (Saturday)
From: Winston Edmond 
Subject: Re: SF-LOVERS Digest   V6 #45
In-Reply-to: Your message of Sunday, August 22, 1982 8:02AM
To: SF-LOVERS at SRI-CSL

   (In the air is the smell of gasoline; you hear a match striking...)

   Why violence?  Because violence isn't the point, it's simply the easiest way
to evoke certain emotions.

   Two things: First, change is often viewed as disruptive, as upsetting the
existing order of things.  Significant changes often cause major disruptions.
Examples are changes in philosophy of government by those operating the
government; changes in manufacturing technology that may leave many jobless
while creating new kinds of jobs for others; a sudden, successful military
invasion of a neighboring country.  Presenting the disruption as visible
violence makes the abstract feeling of change immediate and discernible to all.
The magnitude of the violence is an indication of the magnitude of change
being wrought.

   Second, people are often confused by what appears to them to be a
bewildering array of options, choices, and consequences.  Yet most people have
experienced times when their objective was sufficiently clear and their means
of achieving it sufficiently within their reach that all the confusion could
be swept aside and consumed in positive, directed action.  The central figures
are often portrayed as people who have arrived at such a moment in their lives.
The violence is their sweeping aside all obstacles, no matter how fearsome, no
matter how formidable to achieve their objectives.  In many cases, the
objectives are presented as the "right" choices, perhaps even the "moral"
choice.

   In short, violence is an oversimplification of the world which helps to
establish right and wrong (or "us" and "them") and which tries to say that
problems can be solved.  Negotiators remind an audience that life is
complicated and that problems usually have many sides, conflicting goals, and
that solution is difficult at best if you fundamentally grant the "other side"
an equal standing.  What's the most effective way to "solve" the "Palestinian
problem"?  Wipe out the people who are causing the problem and then there
will be no more problem.  Easy, huh?  Negotiations  could go on forever.  If a
book or a movie is to keep the reader's interest, it can't drag on forever.
The successful books about negotiators are those about ones who, through
insight or trickery, cut through all obstacles to peace in a rapid, decisive
manner.

   Violence works because there are a lot of people who don't want to have to
deal with the world in all its complication.  The problem is that when books or
movies resort to violence, they can evade teaching us how to deal more
effectively with the world around us.  And, in the end, if you haven't learned
how to handle complexity, it won't surprise anyone that you resort to violence.

   (The fire dies down...
    End flame.)

------------------------------

Date: 12 Sep 1982 0030-EDT
From: Joseph A. Frisbie 
Subject: Re: SF-LOVERS Digest   V6 #46
To: SF-LOVERS at SRI-CSL

In-Reply-To: Your message of 11-Sep-82 2251-EDT


Lem's A Perfect Vacuum, has been in print for at least 5 years
(hardcover at least).  I took it out of the library then, and haven't
see it around since. I found it to be a bit random, but I guess if
you're a great fan you'd like it.

Joe

------------------------------

Date: 11 Sep 1982 1801-PDT
From: Jim McGrath (SF-LOVERS Moderator) 
Subject: Invaders
To: sfl at SRI-CSL
Reply-to: SF-LOVERS-REQUEST at MIT-AI


Are showing on channel 36 at 5:00pm on Saturdays in the Bay area.

Jim

------------------------------

Date: 29 Aug 1982 1601-CDT
From: Greg Elder  
Subject: Revenge of the Jedi
To: sf-lovers at MIT-AI

The October issue of Epic Illustrated shows a couple of production paintings
from RotJ.  The magazine also states that the movie is scheduled to be released
on Friday, 27 May 83.

------------------------------

Date: 26 Aug 1982 1725-EDT
From: YOUNG at DEC-MARLBORO
To: SF-LOVERS at MIT-AI
Subject: [David Dyer-Bennet : SF Lovers submission]

- - - - - - - Begin message from: David Dyer-Bennet 
Date: 24 August 1982  21:48-EDT (Tuesday)
From: David Dyer-Bennet 
Subject: SF Lovers submission
To: young at market


( Subject: SF-LOVERS Digest   V6 #40 )

(Tim Shimeall ) Spacehounds of IPC has no apparent
connection to other works.  The tone is closer to Skylark than to the
Lensman universe, but there is no evidence of any connection.

The Family D'Alembert series is published by Pyramid as by E.E. "Doc"
Smith with Stephen Goldin.  I have only  4 volumes of it; my last,
Getaway World, carries a 1977 copyright date.  I have seen them in
stores much more recently than that, in fact within the last year.

------------------------------

*** SPOILER, the following message reveals information about Le Guin's ***
*** THE COMPASS ROSE. 

Date: 12 Sep 82 2:52-PDT
From: mclure at SRI-UNIX
To: sf-lovers at Sri-Csl
Subject: Le Guin book review

n559  0219  12 Sep 82
BC-ROSE-09-12
    A BOOK REVIEW
    By Scott Sanders
    (c) 1982 Chicago Sun-Times (Field News Service)
    
    THE COMPASS ROSE: Short Stories. By Ursula K. Le Guin. Harper & Row.
$14.95.
    
    (Scott Sanders, an essayist and novelist, teaches at Indiana
University.)
    
    Just as we read the news, so we should read the olds - we should
study accounts of what is perennial in human experience. The richest
accounts I know are kept in books, especially books of fiction.
Although novelists are sometimes confused on this point (taking the
word ''novel'' too literally and regarding themselves as
journalists), the greatest works of fiction have rarely chronicled
the day-to-day, but have reported instead on those matters of nature
and character and thought that change slowly, if at all, beneath the
shimmer of current events. To paraphrase poet William Carlos
Williams, ''It is difficult to get the news from stories, yet men and
women die miserably avery day for lack of what is found there.''
    For 20 years now, in more than a dozen novels and several books of
tales, Ursula K. Le Guin has been luring us down through the changing
surface of the everyday, into the durable landscapes of dream and
fairy tale and myth. Because those landscapes are often projected
onto alien planets, which her characters sometimes reach by means of
spaceships, publishers have seen fit to call much of her work science
fiction. But her work has more in common with the metaphysical fables
of Kafka and Borges than with the technological projections of Asimov
and Heinlein.
    Le Guin draws many of her dominant images, as well as her habit of
vigorous speculation, from science. But her concerns and her
narrative patterns are much older than science, as old as the Bible
and the ''Odyssey.'' The 20 recent stories gathered in ''The Compass
Rose'' display in brilliant variety her unsettling fusion of science
and myth, modern surfaces and ancient depths.
    In ''The Water Is Wide,'' for example, a physicist is driven to
suicide by his knowledge concerning the world's nuclear arsenals. The
technology that triggers his anguish is a recent one, but the anguish
itself is as old as conscience. In a dialogue called ''Intracom,'' a
spaceship becomes the metaphor for that earliest of traveling
vessels, the human body, in this case a female one, which gestates
that primordial alien, a fetus.
    Another story unfolds on a distant planet, where a second-generation
painter learns to see his alien environment with a new eye for its
unearthly beauties. Beneath the contemporary garb of space-travel,
his story is that of all immigrants, who must slowly learn to grasp
with their minds the new land which they so quickly occupy with their
bodies.
    ''The Pathways of Desire'' is also set on another planet, this one a
garden paradise. The anthropologists who study the place conclude
that it is an adolescent boy's dreamscape, and they in turn,
re-enacting a Hindu myth, become the dreamers of their own story. Le
Guin strips away layer after layer, until the scientists are revealed
to be the avatars of gods.
    This interplay between ancient and modern is nowhere more chillingly
displayed than in ''The New Atlantis.'' As a more corrupt and
oppressive version of our own world sinks into the ocean, a fresh
world arises from the depths. The two are bound together like the
rising and falling ends of a teeter-totter, and the prose styles that
Le Guin uses to describe the dying and the nascent world answer one
another like antiphonal voices in music. There is talk in the story
of continental drift and plate tectonics; but the deeper theme is the
power of human yearning to conjure up a better, nobler dwelling-place
in the midst of suffering.
    Occasionally her characters even seek out bleak landscapes and
undergo suffering, as if the outward emptiness called forth an inward
plenitude. The women in ''Sur'' who journey to the South Pole are
drawn by the ''white place on the map, that void.'' They conduct
their expedition in the most scientific manner; but the compulsion
that drives them and the discoveries they make have nothing to do
with reason, and very little to do with the 20th century.
    Not all the stories in ''The Compass Rose'' are thus alloyed of
science and myth. Several of them record the derailments of the heart
brought on by the death of a parent or spouse. In the second half of
''Two Delays on the Northern Line,'' for instance, a man whose life
has been shattered by the death of his wife inherits a house in
another city, and that new home restores to him a sense of purpose.
Several of them show us the world as it might be observed through the
eyes of beasts. Thus we see a maze and a psychologist from the rat's
point of view. We watch from inside a she-wolf as her mate, in the
dark of the moon, changes from wolf into that most hated of all
brutes, a man.
    But above all, these stories suggest that the human capacity for
imagining contrary realities - and especially that capacity for
public dreaming we call art - endures, whatever else may shift about
in the winds of technology. In one of the most powerful stories, a
man who has been sent to the madhouse because of his unorthodox
political beliefs proves his sanity by imagining a perfect rose. The
imagined flower is his song, his poem, his painting, his gesture of
opposition and affirmation. Electrical treatments will eventually
destroy him. But in the meantime the psychiatrist who is monitoring
his thoughts is so enlightened by the rose that she takes up the
condemmed man's politics. And so imagination cuts through even the
latest model traps.
    All of these tales move - as Le Guin has written elsewhere that good
fiction should move - in ''the direction of the great myths and
legends, which is always toward an intensification of the mystery of
the real.'' Her deepest subject is that of a quest, the tale of a man
or woman who has been cast into a baffling world among strangers and
must find there a true identity, a correct path, a mate or comrade, a
way home.
    END
    
nyt-09-12-82 0509edt
**********
n559  0219  12 Sep 82
BC-ROSE-09-12
    A BOOK REVIEW
    By Scott Sanders
    (c) 1982 Chicago Sun-Times (Field News Service)
    
    THE COMPASS ROSE: Short Stories. By Ursula K. Le Guin. Harper & Row.
$14.95.
    
    (Scott Sanders, an essayist and novelist, teaches at Indiana
University.)
    
    Just as we read the news, so we should read the olds - we should
study accounts of what is perennial in human experience. The richest
accounts I know are kept in books, especially books of fiction.
Although novelists are sometimes confused on this point (taking the
word ''novel'' too literally and regarding themselves as
journalists), the greatest works of fiction have rarely chronicled
the day-to-day, but have reported instead on those matters of nature
and character and thought that change slowly, if at all, beneath the
shimmer of current events. To paraphrase poet William Carlos
Williams, ''It is difficult to get the news from stories, yet men and
women die miserably avery day for lack of what is found there.''
    For 20 years now, in more than a dozen novels and several books of
tales, Ursula K. Le Guin has been luring us down through the changing
surface of the everyday, into the durable landscapes of dream and
fairy tale and myth. Because those landscapes are often projected
onto alien planets, which her characters sometimes reach by means of
spaceships, publishers have seen fit to call much of her work science
fiction. But her work has more in common with the metaphysical fables
of Kafka and Borges than with the technological projections of Asimov
and Heinlein.
    Le Guin draws many of her dominant images, as well as her habit of
vigorous speculation, from science. But her concerns and her
narrative patterns are much older than science, as old as the Bible
and the ''Odyssey.'' The 20 recent stories gathered in ''The Compass
Rose'' display in brilliant variety her unsettling fusion of science
and myth, modern surfaces and ancient depths.
    In ''The Water Is Wide,'' for example, a physicist is driven to
suicide by his knowledge concerning the world's nuclear arsenals. The
technology that triggers his anguish is a recent one, but the anguish
itself is as old as conscience. In a dialogue called ''Intracom,'' a
spaceship becomes the metaphor for that earliest of traveling
vessels, the human body, in this case a female one, which gestates
that primordial alien, a fetus.
    Another story unfolds on a distant planet, where a second-generation
painter learns to see his alien environment with a new eye for its
unearthly beauties. Beneath the contemporary garb of space-travel,
his story is that of all immigrants, who must slowly learn to grasp
with their minds the new land which they so quickly occupy with their
bodies.
    ''The Pathways of Desire'' is also set on another planet, this one a
garden paradise. The anthropologists who study the place conclude
that it is an adolescent boy's dreamscape, and they in turn,
re-enacting a Hindu myth, become the dreamers of their own story. Le
Guin strips away layer after layer, until the scientists are revealed
to be the avatars of gods.
    This interplay between ancient and modern is nowhere more chillingly
displayed than in ''The New Atlantis.'' As a more corrupt and
oppressive version of our own world sinks into the ocean, a fresh
world arises from the depths. The two are bound together like the
rising and falling ends of a teeter-totter, and the prose styles that
Le Guin uses to describe the dying and the nascent world answer one
another like antiphonal voices in music. There is talk in the story
of continental drift and plate tectonics; but the deeper theme is the
power of human yearning to conjure up a better, nobler dwelling-place
in the midst of suffering.
    Occasionally her characters even seek out bleak landscapes and
undergo suffering, as if the outward emptiness called forth an inward
plenitude. The women in ''Sur'' who journey to the South Pole are
drawn by the ''white place on the map, that void.'' They conduct
their expedition in the most scientific manner; but the compulsion
that drives them and the discoveries they make have nothing to do
with reason, and very little to do with the 20th century.
    Not all the stories in ''The Compass Rose'' are thus alloyed of
science and myth. Several of them record the derailments of the heart
brought on by the death of a parent or spouse. In the second half of
''Two Delays on the Northern Line,'' for instance, a man whose life
has been shattered by the death of his wife inherits a house in
another city, and that new home restores to him a sense of purpose.
Several of them show us the world as it might be observed through the
eyes of beasts. Thus we see a maze and a psychologist from the rat's
point of view. We watch from inside a she-wolf as her mate, in the
dark of the moon, changes from wolf into that most hated of all
brutes, a man.
    But above all, these stories suggest that the human capacity for
imagining contrary realities - and especially that capacity for
public dreaming we call art - endures, whatever else may shift about
in the winds of technology. In one of the most powerful stories, a
man who has been sent to the madhouse because of his unorthodox
political beliefs proves his sanity by imagining a perfect rose. The
imagined flower is his song, his poem, his painting, his gesture of
opposition and affirmation. Electrical treatments will eventually
destroy him. But in the meantime the psychiatrist who is monitoring
his thoughts is so enlightened by the rose that she takes up the
condemmed man's politics. And so imagination cuts through even the
latest model traps.
    All of these tales move - as Le Guin has written elsewhere that good
fiction should move - in ''the direction of the great myths and
legends, which is always toward an intensification of the mystery of
the real.'' Her deepest subject is that of a quest, the tale of a man
or woman who has been cast into a baffling world among strangers and
must find there a true identity, a correct path, a mate or comrade, a
way home.
    END
    
nyt-09-12-82 0509edt
**********

End of SF-LOVERS Digest
***********************
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