Tag Archives: Harry Harrison

New Post – Voodoo Robot Chili

For those who haven’t yet subscribed  to my new blog,  Voodoo Robot Chili (and you know who you are, but not necessarily in Heideggerian terms) please note that I’ve posted some new articles which you’re sure to love.

They’re witty, yet prophetic in the, “my god this beats the pants off a Magic 8-Ball” sort of way. Though, come to think of it, Magic 8-Balls don’t wear pants…

But who cares about that?

Trust me, I’m making fun of everyone from Dick Cheney, all the way up to Taylor Swift. Do you see the connection? I sure don’t. But that’s not the point. I’m just damn sure I’ve targeted everyone who’s scratched their butt at least once in their life. (Once again, you know who you/they are.)

So whoever (or whatever) you want to laugh at, don’t worry. And don’t get your  panties all bunched up into a pretzel. You’ll find a chuckle at  Voodoo Robot Chili.

Click on the link baby. You know you want to.

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New Blog – Voodoo Robot Chili

Because I’m now working on my second novel, I’ve decided to start making posts in a new blog entitled, Voodoo Robot Chili. Some people feel it’s best to post from one single blog, and focus readers all in one spot. In the future I may do that. However, for aesthetic reasons, I feel there are benefits to dedicating a blog to one particular book. To begin, all the art and colors can be tuned to the new book’s aesthetics. More importantly, it’s easier to focus the posts in line with the genre of this particular book. In this case, military SF comedy.

Anyway, if you’ve enjoyed my writings in the past, I can only make a humble appeal to follow me on my next writing adventure. Please join me at Voodoo Robot Chili. I’ll make it worth the time.

C.M. Kornbluth – The Life and Works of a Science Fiction Visionary

 Many of you may not remember Cyril Kornbluth, an outstanding science fiction writer who sadly died in the late ’50s, but his impact on Science Fiction endures until today. With the publication of a new biography by Mark Rich, I think it is time for everyone to reacquaint themselves with the life of a great writer from SF’s golden age.

Rich has spent years gathering data, and the biography covers everything from Kornbluth’s early life and member of the Futurians, all the way through to his tragic death in 1958 from a heart attack. Rich’s attention to the books detail is impressive. Not only do we get a full index, but also more than 40 pages of chapter notes.

The biography talks about many of Kornbluth’s literary accomplishments. My favorite novel by Kornbluth is THE SPACE MERCHANTS, written in collaboration with Frederik Pohl. However Kornbluth’s life work covered an impressive array of  techno, economic, and sociological issues, which even until today cause us to pause and question. As Rich puts it:

“…he expressed his commonality, moreover, by responding to the great events of the day: the concentration camp, the atomic bomb, the Red Scare, McCarthyism, the erasing of gender lines, the culpability of the intelligentsia, the tragedy of the Organization Man, and the brutalizing, numbing and dumbing-down effects of mass culture.”

I don’t know how you feel, but I don’t believe all the above issues have yet been resolved. More reason in my opinion to understand Kornbluth’s work, and the man himself.

So, if you love SF from the golden age, this biography is a must read. I highly recommend it.

Deathworld – by Harry Harrison

 Beyond all the: shooting, car chases, rocket escapes, and vicious alien creature attacks; this book offered more than just a thrill ride. It’s a story about the environment, and reminds the reader that making mistakes with mother nature can have negative repercussions. Namely, she’ll eat you alive.

Now in addition to its philosophical points, this book will be a great learning tool for budding writers because it employs an interesting narrative technique. The entire book starting from page one is written from only the protagonist’s (Jason dinAlt ) point of view. It never changes, and is so skillfully done I actually thought it was first person at times. But Harrison keeps the narration in Limited 3rd, and seamlessly keeps the reader absorbed the whole time without effort. I think few books pull this off better.

The plot also maintains high level drama and mystery the whole way through. So much so, it’s a wonder this book (and its two sequels) were never made into movies: it’s a CGI guy’s fantasy come true. So for now, you’re going to have to just read it and use your imagination.

Don’t worry though. Even without CGI, it’s worth it.

Self Publishing: The New Wave?

Will a second coming of New Wave of Science Fiction arrive? Self publishing makes it possible to read stories the traditional gatekeepers would never approve. To some degree, the slush pile from hell is about to be unleashed. That’s how some see it, but maybe that’s not the right attitude to have.

From my perspective, what occurred in the 1960’s may yet take place again. Namely, the creation of a New Wave.  Think about it: the publication of books and short stories which challenge the establishment, and edify readers. Is it not time to celebrate? 

Harry Harrison wrote: It was an age of experiment. The old barriers were coming down, pulp taboos were being forgotten, new themes and new manners of writing were being explored.

Good words. I truly hope we can enjoy this freedom a second time, where Science Fiction reaches the literary heights so many had hoped for.

Deathworld by Harry Harrison

My editor Dave asked me to “note why” Harry Harrison’s scenes in Deathworld are strong. I gave this some thought after listening to it on librivox.org. Here is my take on it;

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First, I noticed that Harrison doesn’t use much verbose language. It is simple, direct, and to the point. Sort of “in your face” and seems to set a good tone for this very action packed, boom boom boom, drama that keeps coming at you; chapter after chapter. This could easily become a movie these days. Took a look at HH’s website and sure enough, seems someone has optioned it. The CGI guys are going to have a field day

I almost mistook this book for being written in the first person. The POV is from Jason, and we follow him from one scene to the next. Even without the First Person, It does not lead to any monotony at all, and I was quite impressed with the effect. It makes you feel like you are there.

To better understand the writing style, I looked at the book’s text as well. As expected, the sentences are fairly short, and Harrison seems to use many paragraph breaks for emphasis. I even saw something I was unfamiliar with. Single line paragraphs, that stand alone to break out some piece of the story for dramatic purposes. Here is one example in Chapter 3 that caught my eye;

“Wait-I can’t take it now, you’ll have to return in the morning, to the bank. In normal business fashion,” Ellus decided firmly.
Kerk reached over and gently drew the paper out of Ellus’ hand.
“Thanks for the receipt,” he said. “I won’t be here in the morning so this will be satisfactory. And if you’re worried about the money, I suggest you get in touch with some of your plant guards or private police. You’ll feel a lot safer.”

I myself would be tempted (or at least consider) to put “Kerk reached…” prior to his dialog and drop the, he said. However, I see that the dramatic effect of taking the check from Ellus’ had is greater by using a one sentence paragraph.

At other times though, the action is broke up into small paragraphs where the emphasis in on the end of the paragraph. Here is an example I found in chapter 22 when Jason flees for his life by escaping in a life pod;

Solid fuel launchers exploded and blasted the lifeboat clear of the parent ship. Their brief acceleration slammed Jason to the  deck, then he floated as the boat went into free fall. The main-drive rockets didn’t fire.
In that moment Jason learned what it was like to know he was dead. Without fuel the boat would drop into the jungle below,  falling like a rock and blasting apart when it hit. There was no way out.

The paragraphs are broken up and we have these nice “short” ending sentences that have a punch.  I liked this effect and I remember it sounded good too when being read.