State of the AK

So let me give you my readers an update on things.

Apparently Ozma was ranked by Japanese viewers 42nd in a list of spring anime (there were 42 items on the list). In a show of moral support, I reupload this image.

What I’ve been doing for the past 2 months is working a regular job with regular hours, the 9 to 5.  Let me tell you, 9 to 5 is bad for your fandom ‘mkay?  Actually, it’s bad for your fandoms.  I guess if you stick to one or things there’s enough time for them, but if like me you like to do 1o fun/fan things at a time, a regular job is a rather large obstacle.

Working only a third of your day isn’t that bad quantity-wise, but the problem is it totally breaks your day into pieces.  It’s not only that you must sleep, it’s that that “free time” between sleep and work is pretty much nullified, because you’re getting ready for work, especially if you’ve got a substantial commute like I, and most people, do.

I’m a big reader, so I try to read on the way to work, but guess what, I’m always sleepy or something and I don’t get much done.  When I’m home in the evening, I get straight into the fun stuff.  But horror of horrors, I get sleepy again, so often I have to choose between getting a good nap or doing something I really want to do (of late I just haven’t been napping).  And since I’m at work during the time when everything is open on weekdays, I spend the weekends running errands and buying groceries etc, so again, not much time there.

As I write this my youtube channel has somehow amassed 70,000 hits and garnered 20 subscribers, about 15 of which subscribed after I started working.  Which means they haven’t seen anything new from me ever since they’ve subscribed, since I haven’t subtitled a single video since!!  I’ll try to correct that this long weekend 😉

My tumblr site is all cobwebby, this site is mothballed, and practically all my free time is spent working on my Sinduin stuff (and I feel I’m not getting nearly enough done on that front either).  Every once in a while I check the Leijiverse forums in France and I must confess that as much as the recent lack of updates disappoints me, it’s a bit reassuring since my brain is kinda scared it won’t be able to cope if some big news were to break out right now.

That said, every week that passes I get more familiar with my work and so my brain is gradually relaxing and demanding it be entertained.  (In other news, I’ve recently discovered that New England brews are rather awesome, so my brain is at least getting fed something other than work).  Anyway, I’ll definitely want to hear what shows seem to be good for the first 3 eps or so.  I must return to normalcy at some point.

Cheers to everyone out there who is reading~

~ by Haloed Bane on October 5, 2012.

50 Responses to “State of the AK”

  1. I guess that is what happens when real life comes calling. When you have time I am sure your correspondents will be at the usual stand. Just post to Anime Nano. Good luck with the new job.
    By the way, if you don’t already know, a firm called S’Mores is issuing Galaxy Express 999 in what seems like three box sets over the next few months. But there are only 4 disks per box set, which by my calculation means there are almost 10 episodes per disk. I don’t know what kind of quality we can expect from that.

    • Yup, I’m still on Nano I think.
      10 episodes per DVD, that’s like 500 mb an episode, no? Good enough I should think..

  2. Amen

    • And I don’t even do overtime, man.

      • I don’t do much of that either, these days. But the schedule synchronized with the rest of my family/humanity leaves me with little time to indulge hobbies. Before I had hours to myself because everyone else is either asleep or away… but now we are mostly together — which is a big victory. Alas, there are trade-offs; those such I gladly make.

  3. Yes, you are still on Nano; that is where I pick up notice of your postings.

    In my experience, when they put that many episodes on a disk they sometimes wind up with problems with indexing the various episodes and get other technical flaws. I already have the first box set on order (it is presumably due out on November 20), so I will find out the hard way if there are any problems. I will post here if there are any. Considering there are 113 episodes, a total price for all 3 sets of about $150 seems reasonable. By the way, a firm called Eastern Star a few months age got the Galaxy Express 999 movie out on DVD (finally). It is a beautiful transfer; the best I have ever seen for this movie.

    So real life has caught up with you. I had heard nasty rumors of such things happening before, but I had not believed them until now.

    • Truth be told, I have a habit of escaping real life everytime it seems to catch me, but I don’t know, this time I might have been truly caught. We’ll see.

      • Lol I’ve been doing that too, only this time I sort of “dove in.” But it’s not “real life” for me, I still live at home, and all of my money is gonna go to buying equipment for art shit.

        • One of the key ingredients of real life is a feeling of helplessness, that you gotta keep at it otherwise horrible things will happen. So I’d say you’re right, it’s not precisely a real life situation you’re in.

  4. Now that I work, I can relate. I work 4 AM to 12:30 PM, which ought to be brilliant, if I could get my sleep schedule right. Instead I keep passing out right when I get home, and then I don’t even know what to do. Next week I’m all the way down to 16 hours though, so I’ll have time to sort my shit out finally.

    It definitely isn’t as easy to spend all day playing video games, blogging, watching anime, hanging out with friends, and playing dungeons and dragons, while entertaining the notion of doing creative work. The saving throw is that I live with the family and my commute is ultra-short, so my concerns aren’t as bad as yours. Good luck, man.

    • Thanks. There is one extra element that’s totally psychological but important nonetheless: when you dedicate that many hours in a day to “working”, your brain gets “tired”. I’m not talking about being sleepy or getting a headache, it’s more of an alienation as your brain is disoriented because it’s being forced to do things that are, ultimately, unnatural to it. Because of this, sometimes, on a day off, you’ll feel refreshed and yet find that your brain can’t focus on doing fun stuff.

      At least this is my experience. Once again, though, one needs to get used to the situation and overcome it to the extent one can.

  5. I feel your pain AK. Balancing work with fandom is hard to do specially if like you, there is a long conmute involved.

    I’ve been finding out the hard way that having an anime addiction and and active 2 year old kid are not really that compatible. That leaves only those dark hours of the night when the rest of the house sleeps. But alas, making sense of Eureka Seven AO’s plot when you’re sleepy is not an easy thing.

    PD: I think clearly the japanese viewers didn’t see all the other 41 series if they thought Ozma was the worst!

    • I know of anime watchers with children, and how often children will demand attention precisely when they start watching something 😀

      Re: Ozma, I guess the rankings were set in terms of how many votes each series got from viewers that saw it and liked it. So the thrust of the result is that few watched Ozma, and the few that did didn’t think it was one of the best series in the season. Viewed that way, it’s pretty reasonable.

      However, this potentially has dire consequences for future projects. I’m thinking specifically of Zero Desigze, which Leiji has repeatedly said might or might not go straight to video. I imagine now there’s practically 0% chance we’ll get a TV series.

  6. Wow! I totally get what you feel. I too have a long commute, and it’s virtually the only time I can get any reading done, but some mornings I’m just out of it and I slap on my headphones instead. My chief problem is not getting enough sleep, because I try to catch up on the things I like doing at night. I kinda love my work, though, and I’m still trying to come up with a way to balance my life.

    • Yeah, the read-book vs headphones+staring aimlessly out the window issue. I have that all the time 🙂

      • Mine is more the do something vs. watch a fuckload of youtube videos issue.

        • Well, but there it sounds like doing what you really wanna do, which is watching youtube. in my case it’s like i really want to read, but end up listening to music because it’s less exacting.

          • I don’t want to watch youtube videos all day. It’s the path of least resistance for me. I listen to music p. much at all times, and I guess I can say I’ve almost never been tired enough to *just* do that. I’d at least waste time on reddit while listening. It’s impossible for me to sit still and listen to music for more than five minutes if I can help it.

  7. I am reminded of the Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope, one of the best, if not the best of the Victorian novelists. Trollope was a full time Post Office official. He also had to travel intenationally to take care of Post Office matters. Nonetheless, he was one of the most prolific of the Victorian novelists, and this was in the day of the three-decker (three-volume) novel. His best novel is probably The Way We Live Now (1875) and my copy runs to almost 1,000 pages. He wrote altogether about 47 novels, as well as a large number of short stories, travel books, etc. The way he did it was as follows: he has his writing paper made to a very specific size so he knew how many words he had to write. Then he would have someone wake him up at 5 in the morning every day. He would write for 3 hours every day and then go to work. If he was on the train, he had a sort of lap desk and would write on the train. He recounts once that he was writing on a ship in a storm; he had to keep going on deck to throw up and then go back to write. If he finished one novel and there was still time remaining in his three hours, he would take down a fresh sheet of paper and start the next novel. He would keep track of how much he wrote on a daily chart to make sure he was pacing himself properly. And he was no hack, either. For my money, he is the best of all of the English novelists.

    Of course, he was an extraordinary man. It never ceases to amaze me how much the Victorians managed to get done in the course of a lifetime; maybe it’s because they did not have television to distract them.

    • Wow, what a story. That’s the first I heard of it! There is no way I could even begin doing something like that.
      I guess my favorite Brit writer of that time is Thomas Hardy, who was a bit of a one-trick pony, but what a pony~

  8. Trollope is great. They have a nice Wikipedia page on him. He wrote the story of the fall of Bernard Madoff in The Way We Live Now 140 years before it happened. Hardy is good also. I really liked Jude the Obscure. I see no great American novelists now writing. However, I think the point I was making with the story about Trollope is that I am absolutely sure that you could do it too. The interesting thing about Trollope is that he was a late bloomer. He only just scraped by in his first years and it was considered that he would never amount to anything. He waited until he was 32 years old before he even published his first novel. But once he got on his feet there was no stopping him. I found his story to be inspiring. He wrote an interesting Autobiography. What I have always wondered about is just where he got the drive. I have been seasick before. When that happens all you really want to do is die. I have head of people curling up in a ball and vomiting their stomachs out, but I never heard of anyone writing a novel while seasick. I can only conclude that Trollope was a man born to write, to hold that pen and express his thoughts, and once he understood what he was there was no force that could stop him. He wrote even while he was sick at the end of his life. When he could no longer hold his pen, he dictated his novels. Like most of the great Victorian novelists, he died with his boots on in the course of writing his last novel. I have read your writings and I am sure you could do the same. Most of the time, when I write this sort of message on-line people just blow it off or get insulted but you did not, so you are willing to take it seriously.

    One of the interesting things to me is the affinity between English and Japanese cultures. There are a lot of similarities there: if you look at the Japanese maids, for instance, they look a lot like English Victorian maids (cf., Emma). (This is a facetious example, but you know what I mean.) What I have found is that my interest in English culture runs parallel to my interest in Japanese culture. If you have an interest in Japanese culture, then that could also follow an interest in English culture, and Trollope was a quintessential Englishman. Trollope’s Autobiography is available on line at Project Gutenberg. You may find it to be as inspiring as I did.

    • Thanks for the encouragement!! You wonder about Trollope’s drive. I wonder about it too. The man was a machine! Surely he must have kept notes, or maybe he brainstormed early on and came up with 50 different novel plots. Otherwise it boggles the mind how he could begin a new novel right after an old one like that..(Maybe postal work was so easy and automatic for him that he brainstormed while working?!)

      I don’t read much current stuff. The latest American writer which I personally think of as awesome is Faulkner. But most of the stuff I read is far, far older than that. Oh, I do like my British stuff, I really do. And yes, I see parallels. Japan tends to present parallels with a number of countries (but I guess that’s a trivial statement, every country does). There is a huge influence of Victorian England on modern Japan that’s a part of that (the fact that tea time in Victorian England was all the rage probably had an influence, since the Japanese are so into tea). The nobility system in Japan was patterned after the British etc. In that connection, reading something like Mishima’s Spring Snow with its Marquises and Barons is quite interesting.

  9. As far as Trollope’s ability to keep writing goes, I attribute it to two things: (1) He only published his first novel at age 32. I am willing to bet that during the preceeding part of his life, he was just storing material up in terms of understanding human nature and refining his ability to construct his own dream world, and when he reached the boiling point it all came out. He had a fairly unhappy childhood and youth, and that tends to encourage you to fall back on your own resources. (2) He just had the knack. When you look at the collected works of Victorian novelists, they are usually 20 to 30 volumes or more. Balzac and Alexandre Dumas were both extremely prolific while maintaining a high standard of quality. I think it is partly talent (or genius) and partly the ability to fully immerse themselves in their dream worlds. So Trollope’s case was by no means uncommon. What was uncommon was his ability to hold down a full time job and write as much as he did. As far as his work at the Post Office goes, it seems to have been fairly demanding. Trollope is generally given the credit for introducing the neighborhood post office box system into England and seems to have been in the process of being promoted fairly regularly. The only other prominent novelists I can recall who did both were Bulwer-Lytton and Disraeli.

    I don’t have much use for modern Western authors either. That is why I mainly watch anime and read manga for my fix of modern culture; the Japanese appear to me to understand the topics of the modern world that our culture absolutely has to deal with, and they are examining them with a good deal of imaginitive vigor. One of the benefits of losing a war (there are a few) is that you don’t take things for granted or think that you have all the answers. However, Raymond Carver seems to me to be fairly good, and I put together a set of the novels of Jonathan Franzen which I expect to go through. The problem, I think, is that Western culture as a whole is in the doldrums; even science fiction is in the doldrums. All you have to do is look at the stories that won the Hugo award this year.

    • Yes, being that old he probably did have a large store of stuff to write about. I immediately wonder, though: didn’t he make money off of his novels? Why did he keep working at the post office after the first 10? Did he so enjoy his work?

      Modern communications and economics must have an effect on this thing. Today, you only need one hit novel to become famous. Takami Koshun of Battle Royale fame wrote the one book and that’s it. He hasn’t written anything since, yet with 2 movies and 2 manga series, he doesn’t need to work or write..Same thing could be said of JK Rowling with the first Harry Potter, though she was obviously deeper into her dream world and wanted to see it through. Worldbuilding is definitely addictive.

      Raymond Carver I’ve never read. I’m glad I just looked him up on Wikipedia bcos I first thought you meant Raymond Chandler and I was going to say I’m really big into film noir. Anyway, someone quoted me something from Franzen recently and I was like, “Who?” But I’m sure he’s a solid writer, judging from this person’s opinion.

      The last Hugo award winner I remember reading is Hyperion (and yes, I read it after Yuki recommended it in the Haruhi anime). I thought it was very good, though I have the 2nd volume sitting unread in my shelf. Currently, by the way, I’m reading Sylvie and Bruno by Carroll. First time ever for me, which is odd bcos I do love my Carroll..

  10. I think that Trollope continued to work at the Post Office because he liked it and because he wanted the money. He only left the Post Office when he was passed over for one of the top positions. Like most novelists, Trollope first served his apprenticeship; his first three novels did not sell well. Then he started to make a reputation, but he didn’t really start making big money from his novels until he had a big hit with Framley Parsonage (which is an excellent novel, by the way). Then he had his period of fame and best sellers, and then gradually declining sales: he could still sell his novels, but not for the large prices he had commanded. So in his middle years he made a lot of money and as time went on he made only modest sums. But even when he was old and couldn’t hold his pen, he still kept writing; at that point he dictated his novels. His last novel was unfinished because he died in the middle of writing it. I don’t think that last novel, The Landleaguers, shows any diminution of his powers, either. His last novels have their reflections on old age. But if a man must write even when he is in bad health and dying, I would say that he is not in it for the money; rather, he is a born storyteller and author and he must express himself. He has no real choice in the matter. He would write his novels even if he had no readers. Also, I note that once someone has found an audience, they don’t like to give it up. I notice that plenty of famous actors keep on acting even when they don’t need the money any more; they still like the attention and the fame. Among the Japanese, Project Itoh and Tadashi Kawashima (of Alive) were both writing on their deathbeds.

    I think Trollope would have laughed himself to death if he had been aware of the case of Jonathan Franzen, who has only written four novels since 1988, and tells many tales of woe of his difficulty in finishing his latest novel Freedom, which took him 10 years. I think he would have told Franzen to write three hours a day by the stopwatch, the way Trollope did.

    I don’t think authors have ever needed mass technology in order to become famous. One of the first novelists was Samuel Richardson. He achieved fame with his first novel Pamela, and increased his fame with Clarissa (which has the reputation of being the longest novel in written in English) and he wrote only one more novel after that.

    As far as Raymond Chandler goes, I am a big fan. I think he is the best detective novelist the U.S. has produced. I also like film noir. I recently completed my collection of the films of Fritz Lang, who did some notable noir work. (I am waiting for the final part of my Lang collection; they are about to publish a set of his early films which have not been available before.)

    As far as Sylvie and Bruno goes, that is certainly an odd case, when you take into account the fame of Alice and the neglect of Sylvie. I have been meaning to read it myself. One thing I have noticed is that the Japanese sure do love Alice. I can’t even count how many times they have referenced it in anime and manga.

    The problem with the Hugos is that too many of the awards have been to fantasies. It is as though the market for solid science fiction has dried up. I would consider that to be a very bad thing because I think that science fiction is virtually the only place in our literature which is attempting to grapple with the most fundamental issues now facing our society, which is the effect of our technology on men and society. I like fantasy well enough, but I think a more rigorous and factual treatment of our problems is needed. I think there ought to be an award just for science fiction.

    • Sylvie is very, very odd. I’m not sure if I’m enjoying it yet! We’ll see how it goes.

      I actually thought Hugo was only for sci fi, so that shows you how much I know… I somehow get the sense that writing entertaining fantasy is much easier than writing entertaining sci fi, so that may have something to do with it..

  11. Yes, over the last 20 years or so they have been awarding the Hugo to fantasies as well as science fiction. I don’t know if it is easier to write fantasy, but with fantasy you get to make up your own rules. With good science fiction, you actually have to know some science.

    • Yup, that’s exactly what I thought. And so a lot of scifi stuff out there is really undercover fantasy, so-called soft scifi. Not that that can’t be fun~

      • It’s my personal favourite… what used to be called “Planetary Romance” back in the day…! Morphed into ‘Science Fantasy’ in the 70’s (lots of scantily clad lovelies and mighty-thewed barbarians on “backwater” planets gone feudal-medieaval…) Oddly, I just finished watching Panzer World Galient. Guess what THAT setting entails… ;-P

        I hate the boxes labelled “Science Fiction” and “Fantasy” – the Hard SF types get all het-up about the distinction, but once upon a time, there wasn’t one. The early SF (speculative) writers worte whatever would sell to the magazines – Astounding (later Analog) for the engineers, Weird Tales for the freak shows… You can’t, for e.g label the likes of Fritz Leiber, Cliff Simak or Ted Sturgeon as “SF” or “Fantasy” – they cut across the entire spectrum and the marketing departments that now rigidly enforce their distinctions didn’t exist… Clark Ashton Smith’s grotesqueries were equally at home in the depths of space or in the far distant past of Earth.

        More recently Roger Zelazny is best known for “Amber” but was also a writer of (truly!) mythic SF. (Most people would put “Lord of Light” at the top of the pile. I’d argue for “Isle of the Dead”. If only for the opening imagery!)

        The poster-child for 70’s Science Fantasy is still Anne McCaffrey’s wonderful “Pern” series… though she’s a late-comer to a genre that spawned Eric John Stark and Northwest Smith in earlier days. CJ Cherryh toys with genre boundaries and has for 40 years! Moorcock still refuses to be pigeon-holed, and you couldn’t pin Dame Andre Norton down either! (both of whom – and NW Smith’s creator CL Moore) had their Japanese translations illustrated to great effect by Leiji Matsumoto back in the early 70’s – it seems to have rubbed off!)

        One of the few late survivors of “1st fandom” – the late, wonderful bookseller and fan Ken Slater once told me (paraphrasing!) “It doesn’t matter whether you use a dragon or a spaceship, a ray-gun or a sword – it’s the story that matters.” Never a truer word… and the conversation that set ME off…!

      • I would agree that a good story is a good story and is always welcome regardless of the genre. However, that misses the point as to the usefulness of fantasy and science fiction as separate genres. Science fiction does something that fantasy cannot do: it can be used as a test bed for the exploration of the discovery of possible new technologies and their consequences. It forces us to examine what we are within a scientific context. It is this social utility that gives science fiction a particular value not possessed by fantasy. Science fiction requires a rigorous treatment of scientific fact in order to attain a willing suspension of disbelief. This is not to be found in fantasy. I thnk we may properly say that fantastic literature has two main branches, science fiction and fantasy and a third crossover branch of science fantasy that exists in the continuum between the two. Obviously fantastic literature as a whole exists on a continuum, a result of common roots in the Gothic novel and other sources, but there comes a point where fantasy and science fantasy have been left behind and one is dealing with science fiction proper.

        It is certainly true that workers in this field have written all three types. In fact it was extremely common, especially in the pulp days, when authors would write for any available market. So C.L. Moore wrote science fiction for Astounding (i.e., “No Woman Born”), science fantasies for Weird Tales (i.e. the Northwest Smith stories) and pure fantasies (for instance “Fruit of Knowledge” in Unknown). That does not change the fact that there are fixed definitions between the fields and that it is necessary that this should be so. Murray Leinster could not have predicted the existence and consequences of the personal computer as well as he did in “A Logic Named Joe” if he had treated it as a fantasy. The reason why this distinction is important is the men who made many of our technological discoveries first became convinced that they would be possible by reading factually-based science fiction.

        I think it is plain then that the authors understand very well that there are distinctions among the different types of stories they are writing. This is why John W. Campbell, the most important American author and editor of science fiction in the 20th century, after he had moved Astounding Science Fiction in the direction of harder science fiction, then started a magazine for fantasy, the famous Unknown. You mention Anne McCaffrey and her dragons. Perhaps we should also note that the first of the Dragonrider stories was published in Analog by Campbell in 1967. I would invite you to examine the techniques in her series between the first volume and later volumes. If you wanted to read science fantasies, Planet Stories was the most usual venue. Edmond Hamilton wrote both fantasies and science fiction for Weird Tales; but when Farnsworth Wright was publishing Hamilton’s Interstellar Patrol science fiction stories there, he had to come up with a new descriptive term for them: he called them “weird scientific stories.”

        But this distinction is not new. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea is undoubtedly hard science fiction; by the time Verne is done with us, we know every last nut and bolt on the Nautilus. But on the other hand, Verne was perfectly capable of writing a fantasy story, for instance Frritt-Flacc, but when he did, he treated it differently from his science fiction, i.e., he did not attempt to attain the willing suspension of disbelief by the use of scientific fact. The same distinction can be found in the works of H.G. Wells: the fantasy “The Man Who Could Work Miracles,” does not have the scientific content of “The Land Ironclads” or “In the Abyss.”

        I think fantasy has its own methods and its own uses.

        • quote: This is why John W. Campbell, the most important American author and editor of science fiction in the 20th century, after he had moved Astounding Science Fiction in the direction of harder science fiction, then started a magazine for fantasy, the famous Unknown

          You don’t think then that he (perhaps unwittingly) actually helped stifle creativity by the restrictions he placed on writers? That the current drive that’s been getting worse for over 30 years now to place EVERY book into a specific box comes back to this initial drive? That the emphasis on hard science (often so speculative it barely qualifies as Applied Phlebotomy) came at the expense of characterisation and creative, lyrical writing? (Used to be a party-line fan but that was 30 years ago. Kind of moved away a bit over the years…) Or maybe it just co-incided with the war and the fact that those first writers were moving away from the genre (or dead!) and the new generation were moving away from their values… ? These days I neither know nor care – I’m british, it’s an American ‘zine and there’s enough pre-war goodies to keep me going for decades!

          Analog gets pilloried in some quarters as “SF by engineers, for engineers.” Well and good. I used to enjoy some of it, but I’m increasingly at odds with that mindset and the world it’s created. They’re welcome to it. Me, I’m over at F&SF and Asimov’s! I’ll keep re-reading my battered old paperbacks and aging Best-of-years… saving my pennies for new improved CA Smith collections and the next Steve Erikson novel…(Zelazny mk II. On steroids… heheh)

          PS – the best editor? Donald A Wollheim. Hands down. His best-of-years were light-years ahead of anyone else’s – I first discovered “James Tiptree” in one of his, and he always had an eye for the cutting edge and to foster new talent, a trend Betsy still carries on over at DAW books – their back catalogue has its share of mid-range tat, but can still throw out some of the best stuff in ANY field (CS Friedman, CJ Cherryh, W Michael Gear…)

          BTW – my personal favourite SF novels?
          Last Legends of Earth
          The Pliocene Saga
          Mother of Storms
          Hyperion Cantos
          The Crysalids
          La Nuit des Temps
          The Last Man
          World of Null A (ok, the trilogy…!)
          Forbidden Borders trilogy

          Probably tells people all you need to know about me and where I’m likely to stand in the spectrum! (It’s also easier to name short stories…)

          But I’m not going to argue with the Hard SF crowd. Counter-productive and bad for my stress levels!

          • I do not have anything against a diversity is science fiction, and many fine stories have been published in both The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. In fact, I am stating that diversity is a good thing. One of the diverse items that should be maintained is the harder variety of science fiction which appears to me to be in decline and which needs encouragement. One of the things it needs to do that is its own award. There are already plenty of awards for fantasies.

            If all science fiction did was hard science fiction, it would be the poorer for it. I certainly think it is advisable for stories to be published across the specture of fantastic literature as I stated. Matsumoto cannot be accused of being a hard science fiction author. I like his works very much nonetheless, even if he routinely takes the laws of physics, throws them on the ground and stomps them to death. The point I am making is that science is the backbone of science fiction and science fiction as a genre cannot remain healthy if the backbone is permitted to decay. At least two of the Hugos this year went to fantasies, including best novel; this cannot be encouraging to those who practice in the hard science field.

            As far as Clark Ashton Smith goes, I have collected the six volumes of the Night Shade edition. One of the things the extensive notes for each story demonstrate is the way Smith tailored his writing for his market. So his science fiction went to Science Wonder Stories with a scientific background in accordance with their editorial policies, and his weird fiction went to Weird Tales in accordance with their editorial policies. If you are collecting the Night Shade edition, I recommend that you put purchasing it at the top of your priority list, because I think that stocks are getting low. I notice that volume 2 now goes on for $100 and more.

            Wollheim’s influence as a magazine editor was miniscule (Cosmic Stories and Stirring Science Stories for a short period of time in the 1940s), but he was influential as a book editor and I respect his ability. I notice that he probably kept Philip K. Dick alive for years. I have a very large collection of his Ace Doubles in my library and a complete collection of the 63 volumes of his Ace Classics. He was reprinting science fiction from the old Munsey magazines in mass market editions while it was being ignored by most people. He was doing best of the year anthologies during a fallow period when hardly anyone else was doing them and I have many of those also. I would not have that many if I did not think he was a good editor.

            • I bought the Smiths as they came out! Wouldn’t pass up replacing my battered Panther paperbacks with unbowdlerised versions! Also have the Necronomicon collections… But I would like the poetry – and those are going through the roof second hand!

              I’m (obviously!) a huge Matsumoto fan – and I suspect he gets away with stomping on the laws of physics for one simple reason – he does actually know they’re there! (Please note his earlier manga are less prone to this than the TV shows/films, and in recent years I suspect he’s just thought “sod it…” 😉

              …the writers of certain US SF shows on the other paw… especially those made since 1990 with Paramount on the label…

              I’ve found plenty of what I like in Japanese SF these days – one benefit of teaching myself the darned language and a good way to get my money’s worth out of my Casio X-9600 and its 40+ dictionaries! Tanaka Yoshiki alone was worth the effort! (Why Del Rey and others bring over some of the cack they do but not touched at least Ginga Eiyu Densetsu or Arslan Senki remains a mystery…!)

              That, and a couple of 20th C French writers (Barjavel being one…) (Verne gets annoying – all that detail about the damned rivets – the father of hard-sf? Oh yes. And a prime candidate for the origin of the “oh just get on with the story already!!” scream invoked when I’m forced to wade through a pile of technobabble 😉 – not to mention my portable electronic French dictionary, whilst coping with most things, falls over on some of the more technical jargon e.g. marine biology or geology…!!)

              If only I’d done German at O level… I’m sure they’ve got a vibrant SF community (they sure as hell have some gems in Fantasy they aren’t sharing…)

              • As far as Smith’s poetry goes, you are in luck. Hippocampus Press just reprinted their edition of his complete poetry in paperback, which you can get in 3 volumes for $67. I would recomend getting it as soon as possible. The hardcover edition sold out within weeks after it was published. I did not see it on, so you wiill have to go right to Hippocampus Press.

                As far as Verne and technobabble goes, I would say the following:
                1. Verne uses no technobabble. His science is generally as accurate as his times would permit and as free from technical terms as he could get away with.
                2. He does not obfusicate. He knows he is writing for a lay audience. His informative passages are generally quite clear. Sometimes they are also humorous. When Conseil is explaining the scientific method of classifying fish to Ned Land (which is very useful because Verne gives a rundown of the types of fish in every part of the world through which the Nautilus passes), it is done in a humorous way.
                3. Verne’s use of scientific detail is one of the things that impressed the various inventors who were inspired by him. Von Braun’s initial inspiration to go to the moon came from reading Verne. That would not have happened if Verne were not a master of verisimilitude; you cannot read From the Earth to the Moon without coming away with the idea that space travel is at least possible. This is one of the most important social functions of science fiction: inculcating in people the idea that scientific progress is possible. But you cannot obtain the effect of verisimilitude without putting in the detail.
                4. This is an opportunity to learn something new and interesting and useful. Anyway I like this stuff. The three chapters Verne spends describing the Nautilus are the parts I reread the most often.

                • I wonder to what extent this divide is parallel to the Moby Dick issue. I, like most laymen who read the book I dare say, loved the first part only to be terribly turned off by the descriptions of whaling and the ship and what not..

                  • I liked all the parts of the book that told you how whaling operations were conducted in the 19th century. Actually, Moby Dick is almost a whaling encyclopedia. Even in the front section, Melville tells you the etymology of the word “whale” and gives a lot of terrific whale quotes. But the characterization and the whale hunt were also good.

                    I look at it this way: you never can tell when you will be stuck on a desert island with a beached whale. The book tells you everything you need to know about processing whales. You never can tell when that will be handy information. Also, if you are at the cocktail lounge and trying to impress a girl, you can dazzle her with your knowledge of marine biology and whaling ship structure. So you never can tell when random information will come in handy. The problem with these orcs and dragons and such is that they may be fun to read about, but none of them will ever get you to the moon or tell you how to render blubber when you really need to know it. Adding it to your literature is a painless way to get the stuff down.

                • Yes… But I read Verne in French… with an electronic Hachette that isn’t built for technical jargon!! And frankly, as a former editor myself – if it don’t move the story on, or stops the reader in their tracks, it’s just showing off!! ;-P Thankfully 20,000 is the worst for this – most of the rest are far less intrusive!

                  Besides I’m far more of a fan of 80 Days or Centre of the Earth – though Robur has his moments! (Didactic fiction was a great thing between 11-20-something. At 43 it’s been there, read that, better things to do than bone up on subjects I’ve got no stake in (Engineering – meh You can keep it. Chemistry… physics… so-so; AI – still worth a look but done to death in fiction, biology still interesting, cosmology ditto, but my interests are comparative mythology,linguistics and history, which tends to take me into stranger territory!)

                  You’re more likely to find me buried in Dumas anyway…!! Le Comte de Monte Cristo is my personal choice for Best. Novel. Ever. Hmmm… dark, handsome, mysterious occasionally piratical figure with major chip on shoulder and a dulcimer-playing companion… (even if Dumas was drawing more from Byron and filing off the serial numbers [snort]…)(though circling back to the original topic… *Nemo*’s description could pass equally well for Harlock!! Must find the specific passage that had me sniggering in recognition…!!)

                  Thanks for the heads-up on the Smiths – I’m committed to picking up some of the newer Cobra manga next month (ouch… not cheap!), but I’ll definitely check it out!

                  • I had not thought of the similarities between Harlock and Nemo. That is a good comparison. Both of them are driven by a desire for freedom. However, it seems to me that the major difference between the two is that Nemo is really driven by a bloodthirsty desire for revenge (because he has no chance of defeating the whole British navy, and the Sepoy Mutiny is over), whereas Harlock is driven by a desire for justice and has no desire to kill for its own sake.

                    I would recommend that you get the Smith poetry volumes while you can. Hippocampus Press tends to print few copies of their books.

                    As I go through life, I find that I can find a use for everything I know, even if at first it appears to be of no application to my current needs. All knowledge is a web, and when I start pulling on one string, I find that I have soon pulled in the rest of the web along with it. For instance, if I studied linguistics, I would wind up pulling in Bradford’s law, then Zipf distributions, then power laws, then complex adaptive systems theory, and then physics as a whole.

                    • Hehe, some time ago somebody did say to me mockingly: “Your Harlock is nothing but a Nemo ripoff!” And even immediately suggested a trilogy: Les enfants du capitaine Harlock, Vingt mille parsec dans l’espace and L’astéroïde mystérieux. Had to read 20000 Leagues after that, but it left an impression that it was mostly about fish 😛 Oh well, I guess not only kids can get jealous about anime time 😀

  12. I think that Sylvie and Bruno is starting to get some critical attention. There is an interesting article about it on line called Dodgson’s Dodges by Thomas Christensen. Maybe I should get out my own copy.

    • I read that article just prior to checking the book out from the library.. It does make the whole thing sound curiouser and curiouser~

  13. PS, AK – I haven’t forgotten your parcel! my hard drive’s been acting up though, can’t finish part of it until I get it cleaned up! I think the laptop’s about to die…! But the books are ready whenever you’re settled!


  14. Sir, I sympathize; work–even if you love your work–eats up huge chunks of your life and puts a huge dent in your free time. Now, I’ve never made my fandom interests *productive*, like you do, but I used to write and draw and daydream a lot more than I can these days. Sorry about your long commute, too. any chance of taking public transportation? I know it’s inconvenient, but it does at least give you time to nap or think!
    Best wishes anyhow!

    • I go by public transport 🙂 But it’s hard to nap because I have to switch buses halfway through… I do think, though, that I’m getting used to this and I feel like I’m being a bit more productive in my free time than before…

  15. While I see some similarities between Nemo and Harlock, they also seem to me to be fairly distinct characters. Nemo is a full-fledged mad scientist using a destructive machine, possibly the first such character that was ever invented. Earlier characters of that type, such as Frankenstein or Hawthorne’s Dr. Rappaccini, appear to me to be more in the nature of alchemists, rather than full-fledged scientists. There is no real scientific justification for what occurs in either Frankenstein or Rappaccini’s Daughter.

    Harlock is not that sort of character at all. He is a military man not a scientist. He is a fighter for justice rather than an a would-be avenger. And I can’t recall a single episode where he goes over the edge like Nemo; he is a much more melancholy type of character.

    The Grant/Twenty Thousand/Mysterious Island trilogy is, I think, the peak of Verne’s achievement. I was finally able to piece together the three-volume edition of The Children of Captain Grant (under the title A Voyage Round the World) at a reasonable price via the Internet. You are right, there are plenty of fish descriptions in Twenty Thousand Leagues, but there is a whole lot more besides. I think Verne gives a capsule summary of what was known of oceanography as a whole in his time.

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