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[Comments] (1) The Eye of the Lens: I've got books that have been on my wishlist for years and no hope of me remembering how I put them on. I just trust my earlier self. (Occasionally I mistrust my earlier self and remove a nonfiction book that now sounds really boring.) But I think this book got on my wishlist when I read The Trillion Year Spree (not to be confused with the Trillionage Sprout) and came up with a crash course of works from the history of science fiction.

As you might guess I'm not a big fan of what an essay I'm reading calls "the left-bank affectations of the New Wave". My particular pet peeve is "science" elements that are just technobabble, verily technobabble that makes Star Trek's technobabble seem like well-thought out Clarkean exposition. And of course the technobabble is delivered in infodumps. This ruined "The Time Machine" for me despite the excellence of the central conceit. Near the end of TTM there was a diagram that reminded me of The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, but even that didn't appease my aggravation. Duchamp wasn't trying to write science fiction.

As bonus New Wave aggravation there's also peurile anti-Christianity (ruined the otherwise good third part of the title story, and "Symphony Number 6 in C Minor 'The Tragic' By Ludwig van Beethoven II") and boring mundane-freaking (was the entire point of "The Garden of Delights"). What's left? Well, "The Hall of Machines", the first part of the title story, is great, like Lovecraft writing Richard Brautigan fan fiction. And I was initially very happy with "...Ludwig van Beethoven II".

See, as I approached the end of that story I suddenly skipped from page 128 to a reprint of page 33. In an if on a winter's night a traveller type mishap, one of the octavo sheets had been duplicated and so instead of pages 129-144 I had pages 33-48. I missed the ending of LvB2 and the beginning of "The Garden of Delights". But the story still had a satisfying conclusion. Then I was able to find LvB2 online and the real ending was crap. It just goes to prove the adage about stories being improved by chopping off the last ten percent.

Oh, another good thing about this book is the late-70s ads in the back for British SF books with their mod cover art. One ad announces "The 1970's toughest collection of fiction and graphics," summoning up the image of a chain-smoking, fiction-writing robot named The 1970.

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Posted by kirk at Mon Jun 09 2008 10:59

Well, just for the sake of what I should have posted here:

Anyway, yeah.... NetFlix queue and Amazon wishlist share the same
thing for me, that both got originally seeded with an independent
lists of books or movies I meant to look into. (and this is a list
that started in like 1997 on my Palm Pilot) -- I didn't necessarily
been to get all of the entries, just find out what they're all about.
But now I can't tell how worthwhile I thought any given entry was when
I entered it.

(Which reminds me of my favorite Amazon wishlist gripe... why on earth
should the default sorting for someone ELSE's wishlist be date added,
and not the priority they indicated? It's just an invitation for
people who aren't paying attention to grab whatever's newest, since I
think most people gravitate to the top of those lists.)

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