Happy Friday the 13th

As a chaser to my “metacriticism” Blog Gate post: here’s Morgan Holmes on Blish/Atheling on Poul Anderson. I don’t think MH is really being fair to Blish, but then Blish wasn’t being fair to Anderson either. What comes around goes around in a circle of bloggy injustice which is strangely like justice. (The link to MH’s short piece seen at lemuriapress‘s LJ.)

To celebrate this special day, I bought a copy of The Complete New Yorker. Actually, I just bought it because I found a copy remaindered at an incredible 82.5% off. More time than I like to admit was wasted with it this afternoon. When I say “wasted” I, of course, mean, “spent on job-related research.” Here’s the proof: a Chas Addams cartoon from 1936.


Some of the Addams cartoons are distressingly racist. (One never likes to learn stuff like this about one’s heroes.) But there were some antidotes to that, including this cartoon by someone named Hanley (sp?):



The text is at least equally amusing–lots of ephemeral stuff, but niftily written. And some of it comes under the heading of “everything old is new again”:
Admiral Plunkett’s suggestion that we may have to muzzle the press to preserve our liberties is too radical for us. We are also opposed to the suggestion that we shoot our admirals in order to improve the navy.
The New Yorker, “Of All Things”, March 28, 1925

Snap! In addition to the pleasantly feline irony, I like the subtle erudition: I seem to hear an echo of Admiral Byng’s firing squad in the second sentence.

Good stuff, but it promises to be a pretty dangerous time sink. If need be, I’ll start transcribing whole pages of it into a new Morlock novel to keep my agent from singing at me.

About JE

James Enge is the author of the World-Fantasy-Award-nominated novel Blood of Ambrose (Pyr, April 2009). His latest book is The Wide World's End. His short fiction has appeared in Swords and Dark Magic (Harper Collins, 2010), Black Gate, the Stabby-Award-winning anthology Blackguards and elsewhere.
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8 Responses to Happy Friday the 13th

  1. onyxhawke says:

    I’m not that bright but I think even I’d notice that.

  2. davidcapeguy says:

    Is that the New Yorker book with the cd of ALL New Yorker cartoons? Terrific purchase; the treasures to be found on book remainder tables can be wonderful.

    I have a vague recollection that James Blish had a reputation as a “hard” critic way back when, possibly even creating some ill will. I can’t document it, just have a notion that I’ve read that somewhere. Asimov? Ellison? Pohl? But the era of his prime (50s & 60s) was pretty much the only time in the past hundred years that hard SF was top dog over fantasy, and I think a lot of hard science fiction writers gave heroic fantasy the same contempt that had been thrown at them previously. He may have felt that Anderson writing heroic fantasies was behaving as a “traitor to his class.”

    • JE says:

      The New Yorker thing is a set of CDs with all the issues of the magazine on it. They practically paid me to take it off the clearance table, too. Bizarre.

      What I’d really like to have is the same thing for The Shadow or Planet Stories. But I’ll take what I can get.

      I think you’re definitely right about the waspish reputation of JB/”WA”. The fanzines of the time were blogospheric in their snarkitude, and I think everyone tried to sting back harder whenever they got stung. And stinging someone just for the hell of it was part of the game.

      Blish somewhere cops to mellowing in later years. (I think it’s in the intro to ore Issues at Hand.) But what I see in his attitude toward Anderson is the somewhat straightlaced attitude sf fans sometimes have toward fantasy. (For instance, Jonathan McCalmont of “SF Diplomat” fame in recent years.) Blish grew out of this eventually. In fact, he sneers at Anderson’s “immortal Game” by comparing it to James Branch Cabell, and he became one of the biggest JBC fans in the world later on, even editing the fan journal Kalki.

      • al_zorra says:

        We got ours deadly cheap too, about 2 years after it came out.

        But we, of course, got it for the historical research aspect. We only read the stories. We don’t look at the pictures cartoons.

        We lie.

        Love, c.

        • JE says:

          Well, the stories are great, too. For instance, I’m not too interested in “The Barretts of Wimpole Street.” But Dorothy Parker writing about “The Barretts of Wimpole Street”–that’s different.

  3. Anonymous says:

    That 1925 quote is brilliant.

    • JE says:

      It does have a lot of snap. I’m wondering who this Plunkett guy is–there are some Plunketts on my mom’s side of the family (but I didn’t think any of them were admirals).

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