Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Of Ghoulies and Nobels


From Ghoulies and Ghosties, Long-Leggitie Beasties . . .

(Part 23)

The pale man raised his blind face to stare up into infinity.  

(Continued tomorrow.)

And my commentary . . . 
The creature is eyeless, remember.  When you're trying for an eerie effect, it's usually best to write simply and hint at things you cannot say.

You can read all of the story to date here.

And because it's Nobel Prize Season  . . .  

Once again, I have inexplicably been passed up for the Nobel Prize.  So, in the spirit of the season, I'm reprinting my acceptance speech, which originally appeared on SCIFI.COM.  Some of the cultural references are a bit dated.  But I believe the original spirit shines through.

My Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

(Presented Here Against the Unlikely Chance I Never Get to Deliver It)

It’s about time!

You lousy bastards should have given this to me decades ago, and you fucking well know it.  Look at the morons and retards you have given it to.  Okay, so Albert Einstein, personal hygiene aside, wasn’t a total loser.  But Niels Bohr, Desmond Tutu, Ilya Prigogine, the Dalai Lama?  You’d think this award was being given for having a funny name!  And whoever decided it would be a cute joke to give the prize in literature to the likes of Thomas Mann, Anatole France, and Selma Lagerlof obviously never bothered trying to read those boring old windbags.  To say nothing of that self-promoting fraud, Mother Theresa!

I could go on, but I think my point is made.

The Nobel Prize was created by Alfred Nobel, who was – I trust I’m not hurting anybody’s feelings here – a neurotic recluse and a mass-murdering Swede.  So, when one considers the source, I really shouldn’t be surprised that you only gave me the one.  There are five, you know.  (I don’t count the Economics thingie as a real Nobel, and neither should you.) It’s not as if the single greatest Writer/Peacemaker [note to self: scratch out whichever category these idiots neglect to honor me in] the world has ever known couldn’t be adept in chemistry and physics and medicine as well.  I assure you I could.  Not that I have, granted.  I’ve been busy.  But surely intentions should count for something.

Oh, and a word about the venue.  Stockholm??  In December???  No wonder your bikini team never showed up.

So here’s what I propose: Vegas, obviously, for the climate.  Ditch the king – nice guy, but no Robin Williams.  For the MC, rather than doing the safe thing with Madonna or J-Lo, go visionary with the Osborne Family.  Can you picture them wandering aimlessly about the stage?  Hilarious.  Maybe we can even convince Ozzie to bite the head off a (fake) bat.

To get television coverage in the major markets, you’re going to need music – Guns ‘n’ Roses, Aerosmith, maybe even get the Stones out of retirement and back in spandex again.  Back ‘em up with a few flash-pots and some fly-girl dancers.  Filmed testimonials from Michael Jackson and the Simpsons.  Choreography from The Producers.  A line of Elvis impersonators.  Dignified and elegant, that’s the key.  Keep the wire-work to a minimum.

I get shivers just thinking about it.

Now I realize that these suggestions might seem startling to some.  But that’s why I’m up here and you’re down there – because I’m a genius and you’re not.  So shut up and think it over.

Meanwhile, I accept this Award with a modesty so profound that pissants like you cannot even begin to comprehend it.

Thank you.

Copyright 2002 by Michael Swanwick and SCIFI.COM, where it originally appeared.



JJM said...

[sigh] Some day, there will be a decent English translation of Selma Lagerlof's The Adventures of Nils. I guarantee you, you'd love it, and will never be able to view a flock of geese flying overhead the same way again.

Michael Swanwick said...

If I were really looking to bash the Nobels, I'd've chosen a different set of recipients to do it with. Their record is far from perfect.

I seem to recall that Nils was written at the urging of a ministry in the Swedish government, to familiarize students with their nation's geography. It would be interesting to reread the book and then spend a month retracing the journey.

JJM said...

Oh, I recognized the nature of your acceptance speech -- but that didn't mean you'd actually read Nils.

Lagerlof has the reputation, I suspect, based on that translation. I grew up with the Dutch translation and, to this day, when a skein of ducks flies overhead, I call out to them: Here am I -- where are you?

David Stone said...

If it makes you feel any better, you and Mo Yan both enjoy positions of great prestige in my personal (unranked) list of favorite authors.

Michael Swanwick said...

Unranked lists are good.

It's maddening, sometimes, to reflect on how much I miss out on, being monolingual. It would be a fine thing to read Chinese, just for the poems of Du Fu and Li Bai.

JJM said...

I'd say, blithely, "It's never too late to learn!", but ... frankly, four years of Japanese beginning after you're 50 teaches you, first of all, that it's a bit late to start a new language at that age. [sigh] No regrets. But also almost no Japanese left a few years after my last lesson, either. Chinese wouldn't be any easier, especially given you first have to figure out which Chinese.