Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A Conversation Larger Than The Universe


I've been busy on a dozen projects, all of which will be interesting to talk about when done, but not yet. But last week I was in the Grolier Club for the launch of Henry Wessells' exhibition of books from his science fiction and fantasy collection, A Conversation Larger Than the Universe.

The Grolier Club is an organization for book fanciers. Not folks like you and me, mere buyers and readers and amassers of books, but serious bibliophiles. Researchers and scholars and people who make important collections available to their peers. The tomes and related papers on display are not necessarily rare -- though some of them are very rare indeed -- but, taken all together, present a sketch of the entwined genres as a whole, one slightly askew, for it is representative of the interests of a single reader but in its way comprehensive.

The exhibition is accompanied by a book, also titled A Conversation Larger Than the Universe,and subtitled Readings in Science Fiction and the Fantastic. It includes images of I think all the books on display and Henry's graceful writing about the field: It can be read as a history of the twinned and mingled genres, though really it's best to think of as a series of windows opened into different times and concerns. Representative chapters include "Doc Savage & the 1930s," "Flying Saucer Rock and Roll" (not about the Howard Waldrop story but about the intersection of SF and rock), "Dark Science," and "Boucher and Borges." If these are topics of interest to you, I can only add that what is said about them is all lucid and engaging.

But I haven't time for a full-scale book review -- those dozen projects, remember? -- so I can only add that the book will be available early this month and can be preordered here.

And you can find review quotes and a description of the book here

And while I'm reminiscing...

Did you know that rock and roll used to be a very hard thing to sell to a science fiction magazine? Back in the early 1980s, both Gardner Dozois and I went about raving to every editor in the field about a wonderful unpublished story called "Flying Saucer Rock and Roll" by a wonderful writer named Howard Waldrop and the universal response was, "Rock and roll? Ick." (Eventually, a young editor named Ellen Datlow bought it for Omni.) Gardner and I wrote a science fiction story with Jack Dann in which Janis Joplin, Buddy Holly, and Elvis Presley meet under mysterious circumstances and if it hadn't sold right off the bat to Penthouse, I have no idea where it would have gone. High Times, maybe. That's where Gardner and I sold "Snow Job," our time-traveling, cocaine-dealer con men story. Back then, our salvage markets paid a lot more than the SF magazines did.

But that, as they say, is another story, for another time.

Above: Henry Wessells and me. I apologize for the bluriness. The light levels in the hall were pretty low.


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