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Dave Truesdale
Posted on Thursday, December 06, 2007 - 06:23 pm:   

A new "Off On A Tangent: F&SF Style" column has been posted. Titled "_Breakfast in the Ruins_ (of SF) with Barry N. Malzberg," it can be found at:

http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/2008/dt0801.htm

Best holiday wishes to all,
Dave
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S. Hamm
Posted on Thursday, December 06, 2007 - 09:29 pm:   

Terrific essay, Dave!
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Dave Truesdale
Posted on Friday, December 07, 2007 - 06:15 am:   

Thank you. I should also mention that the column reprints one of the essays from the book as well as excerpts from several others, and includes original commentary solicited specifically for this column by James Gunn, Norman Spinrad, Elizabeth Anne Hull (Mrs. Fred Pohl), Stan Schmidt, and Barry himself.

I found Breakfast in the Ruins one fascinating read.
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Friday, December 07, 2007 - 07:02 am:   

I'm finding BREAKFAST IN THE RUINS dozens of fascinating little reads. Just read the piece on Gus Hasford this morning.
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Don Mead
Posted on Friday, December 07, 2007 - 10:35 am:   

Intriguing article.

I used to think that many of today's authors preferred character-driven stories (emphasizing the internal conflict) and that "sense 'o wonder" stories or those exploring utopian/dystopian settings were old school. Then, getting ready for a con in Chicago, I read Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe" from 1957 and found it to be a wonderful psychological plunge into the motivations of its characters.

Also related, I think today's savvy reader knows when they're being cheated by a story. Cheated, that is, when an author tries to force an ending or plot turn for salability (or whatever reason) - - a turn or ending that is not always supported by the characters they've created. I just read a disturbing and provocative story in Helix by Vylar Kaftan "Kill Me" about a girl deep in an S&M lifestyle. The future setting allows her to be killed in the experience and brought back in a cloned body. She's given an escape from this lifestyle and takes it, but I couldn't help but think that such a "happy" ending was inconsistent with the character.
(Spoiler)
It ends with her returning to this lifestyle, and while it could be quite upsetting to the reader, the story's integrity is upheld and it's more satisfying.
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Dave Truesdale
Posted on Saturday, December 08, 2007 - 08:23 pm:   

Gordon gushed (nothing like alliteration to characterize someone's comments, I say): "I'm finding BREAKFAST IN THE RUINS dozens of fascinating little reads."

Mr. Malzberg took the time to comment very briefly on the column in an email this morning. He had no prior knowledge of the comments included from Dr. James Gunn (SFWA's most recent Grand Master), Elizabeth Anne Hull, Norman Spinrad, or Stan Schmidt. As could be expected, I was rather anxious about his response...if any. I was greatly relieved that he thought the column "Very good," "quite thorough," and "very insightful on its own terms."

I lucked out again. ;-)

The purpose of the column is to get folks to BUY this book. It's a terrific read, exhilirating and troubling at the same time; an important book, full of controversial opinion, valuable insight into the ongoing, decades-long dialogue about what SF was, could have been, is, and might still yet be; as well as personal stories and anecdotes about many fascinating authors and editors. If you have any interest at all in the field beyond reading your favorite magazines or novels, then this is an absolute must purchase. You won't regret it.

I'm reminded of the editorial former editor of SF AGE, Scott Edelman, wrote some time ago at SF WEEKLY (?) about the book. It was his favorite book back in 1980, and even more so now with 27 years more of essays added to the original work. You get, in essence, both books in one volume with this one. Cop this one asap, or it's your loss. :-)

What more can I say?
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GSH
Posted on Sunday, December 09, 2007 - 09:43 pm:   

I'll add my own check mark in on the "Damn good essay" side of the tally.

I agree with Don Mead's comment about story endings that leave me feeling cheated. I prefer stories ending on a hopeful note, but false happy endings tagged onto otherwise sound stories hint that hope itself is false.
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Andrew Fox
Posted on Wednesday, December 12, 2007 - 04:00 pm:   

Dear Dave,

Thank you very much for your heartfelt, thoughtful, and searching effort to further explore a few of the questions Barry raises in Breakfast in the Ruins and to bring this immensely valuable book to the attention of a wider audience. I really enjoyed your efforts to get feedback on some of Barry's opinions from his contemporaries. Will you be doing this same sort of thing in some of your future columns?

Best wishes to you!
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Dave Truesdale
Posted on Wednesday, December 12, 2007 - 05:10 pm:   

Andrew wrote: "I really enjoyed your efforts to get feedback on some of Barry's opinions from his contemporaries. Will you be doing this same sort of thing in some of your future columns?"

I'm very glad you liked the essay, Andrew (and you too, GSH, thank you). As to your question above, all I can say is: probably--when the occasion warrants. I've always been quite eager to learn anything I could from those more learned than I, and so I can easily see myself asking the opinions of others on this topic or that in future columns.

In fact, I'm planning the next column as I type (maybe a two-parter, don't know yet) which could very easily lend itself to comment from quite a number of authors and editors. We'll see. :-)

Dave
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Minz
Posted on Thursday, December 13, 2007 - 08:28 am:   

Wow. Great article, Dave. And in the spirit of getting folks to read it (okay, shameless plug here), you can also get it as a very affordable ebook, at:

http://www.webscription.net/p-50-breakfast-in-the-ruins.aspx

There are some more sample chapters at the link as well.
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Blue Tyson
Posted on Monday, December 17, 2007 - 06:23 am:   

The only Breakfast In the Ruins book I have seen is a Moorcock one. :-)

I have read the Malzberg articles in JBU. Seems to be a fair bit of the bitter-and-twisted-writer-genius-not-recognised undercurrent in there.

Or 'the why didn't they do it my way' close cousin.

That gets really old, really fast, to me, at least. So hope the book doesn't come off like that for all of it?
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Scott Dalrymple
Posted on Thursday, December 20, 2007 - 07:07 am:   

I'm halfway through BREAKFAST IN THE RUINS, and must say it's a fascinating read. As someone who grew up in the seventies, I think of names like Campbell, Sturgeon, and Gernsback as mythical figures who may or may not have existed... Malzberg brings them to life for me. Sure, it's a personal book with personal quirks and biases, but Malzberg makes that clear throughout, and I like the book better for it. I don't mind reading someone whose worldview is perhaps different from my own-- that's why I read in the first place.

Moreover, I owe Mr. Malzberg sincere thanks. I didn't realize how much sex successful writers were having at conventions. I must say that this has increased my story output considerably.

Scott
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Dave Truesdale
Posted on Sunday, December 23, 2007 - 06:56 am:   

You ever watch those animal channel documentaries on cable, Scott? The ones showing hundreds of writhing snakes all tangled up in their nest, mating? :-)

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