Saturday, June 14, 2008

The New Nostalgia; Bukowski; Russert

Locus is linking to an excellent article but David Truesdale from a recent Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction about how the small press is taking readers of science fiction and fantasy back to its iconic roots. Be interesting to see if the mystery small prss is ever so moved. The best we have so far is Otto Penzler's fantastic The Big Book of Pulps.

Off On A Tangent: F&SF Style
by Dave Truesdale

The New Nostalgia:
The Classic Pulp Story Revival

"We seem to see "new" used to describe quite a lot of resurrected types of fiction from our genre's past these days. As critic Paul Kincaid notes in a recent SF Site (March 1st) review of The New Weird, we also see the New Hard SF Renaissance and the New Space Opera1 as well as the New Weird. All hearken back to the days of the pulp magazines from the 1930s and 1940s (or in the case of The New Weird, as far back as the 1920s and Weird Tales), and each in their own way seeks to update, or reinvent these sub-genres to align themselves more with contemporary tastes and sensibilities while at the same time capturing the qualities that endeared readers to them in the first place.

"The 'nostalgia' part of the title is as fitting as 'new' is. The April/May issue of Asimov's SF sports a reflective editorial by Sheila Williams on SF magazine publishing landmarks, and a recent "On the Net" column by James Patrick Kelly also waxes nostalgic on various subjects. And one of the publishers discussed below is even called Nostalgia Ventures. Thus we title this essay "The New Nostalgia" with a serious nod to nostalgia and a bit of the tongue-in-cheek toward the "new."

Since most of the pulp magazines had bitten the dust by around 1950, the year I was born (and I'm talking not just the SF pulp magazines, but the crime, western, detective, war, superhero, and romance pulps as well, though some would keep presses running even after Eisenhower left the White House), one would have to be nearly 70 to have been of sufficient reading age by the late 1940s to have caught even the tail end of their heyday. Therefore, the only recourse most of us have had to reading the stories in them is through the numerous reprint collections issued over the years. Probably the most famous compiler of stories from the '30s and '40s was the indefatigable Groff Conklin. SF owes him a tremendous debt of gratitude. Others along the way who have reprinted some of the best of the really older stuff but nowhere near as prolifically, have been Damon Knight and Frederik Pohl, with a few scattered others in the mix over the years. But it has been literally decades since their efforts in this direction have seen print. Thus, another generation of readers has no idea of the origins of our genre from reading the stories themselves; all they know has been gleaned from introductions to recent volumes of "new" this or "new" that. While these thoughtful capsule histories are extremely helpful and valuable, there is no substitute for having read the actual stories themselves—many of which have become classics in the field, and their author's icons. "

For the rest go here

----Charles Bukowski

Duane Swierczynski quoted one of my all-time favorite writers Charles Bukowski speculating on why writers write.

"Writing was strange. I needed to write, it was like a disease, a drug, a heavy compulsion, yet I didn't like to think of myself as a writer. Maybe I had met too many writers. They took more time disparaging each other than they did doing their own work. They were fidgets, gossips, old maids; they bitched and knifed and they were full of vanity. Were these our creators? Was it always thus? Probably so. Maybe writing was a form of bitching. Some just bitched better than others."

----Tim Russert

I don't know about you but I've had all the Russert Watch I can take. I''m sorry that he died so young and that he left his wife and three children behind. But my God this isn't Jack Kennedy dying. I send out political links several times a day. Occasionally I comment on the links. Here's what I said after OD'ing on the Russert coverage.

"To me this is a Beltway circle jerk. Russert started out as a modestly talented interviewer and ended up as a puffed-up parody of the hard-boiled interrogator. He played favorites and he never admitted error. All the network hacks are paying him such extravagent praise because they're part of the same club. You see the same kind of thing at the Shriners and The Knights of Columbus whenever one of their own passes. The difference is that they never helped lie us into a war as Russert and the rest of the Washington press corps did."


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Ed, for posting the comment about Russert. Over at Jerry Doolittle says much the same, but I fear the two of you are the only voices crying out in the wilderness.


Ed Gorman said...

I don't know, Ed. I got used to seeing russert's face during the primaries. He was smart. He called the nomination for the dems before hill quit. Yeah, he helped in the runup to the war. But so did everyone in congress. Pelosi is the biggest facilitator. Someone needs to slap that bitch into yesterday. If they don't impeach W, then it's a message to every other corrupt individual in politics that it's hey okay to mold the laws to benefit yourself and your cronies. Clinton got a blow job and lied about it & got impeached. W has been responsible for kllling thousands, leaving millions displaced and homeless, and for basically wrecking another country and obliterating the middle class here. & he doesn't get impeached. They impeached Nixon in two wks. They cojld W in one day. But he stands up there and smirks and tries to look indignant when he says the court is"divided" about habeas corpus & Gitmo. Oh please, I'm going to vomit. So Russert is as guilty as the rerst of them. They are all facilitators, enablers. They all propagated the myth that we shoujld be afraid, very afraid, and encase our homes in plastic and duct tape. I'll miss Russert's face and his poll number stuff. I'll miss that glint in his eyes that told u he loved politics, even if he didn't have all the answers. It will be very sad if it son ends up in bush's war, but if the sins of the fathers is true, that's what will happen.

Anonymous said...

When Secretary of State Dean Acheson was asked to comment about the death of his tormentor, Senator Joe McCarthy, his response was:
"De mortuis nil nisi bonum."


Todd Mason said...

Well, I didn't make myself more popular around the office by noting that Russert's death was more a loss for his friends than for journalism. Which didn't make it any more fun asking the MSNBC contact late on Friday night if she knew what they'd be running in the old Russert Show slots going forward. (Usurprisingly, she didn't know.)

Todd Mason said...

By the way, how is that commenter "spoofing" you, Ed?

David Truesdale's column isn't actually in F&SF,'s their only web-only component for their website.

Anonymous said...

Personally, I was just relieved that O'Reilly had the night off - and I anticipate tonight with a kind of bemused dread. Billo can go one of these three ways: (1) Full-out bathetic lament; (2) Fulminating attack on GE-NBC-MSNBC; (3) Semi-coherent mash-up of (1) and (2). My Best Guess: (3).

GFS3 said...

Hi Ed:
I couldn't agree more about Russert. He was a TV interviewer -- plain and simple. There's nothing the press loves to write about more than one of their own.