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So he goes

Frankly, I don't understand the sorrow over Kurt Vonnegut among the science fiction fans on my f-list. To call the man a second-rate writer is to be overly generous, imao, especially when you compare him to the major figures in the genre. He missed no opportunity to shit on science fiction and its fandom even as he stole concepts, filed off the serial numbers, and knocked out crappy imitations to the everlasting adulation of the mainstream press, which couldn't be bothered to read "that trashy sci-fi stuff".

It's possible people aren't old enough to remember this. For my part, I remember reading Vonnegut as a teenager (after already having read Asimov, Clarke, Ellison, Heinlein, Niven and Silverberg, to take just a few off the top) and thinking he was nothing special, maybe on a par with Ira Levin. Maybe. At least Chip in Levin's This Perfect Day was someone you could sympathize with, unlike the sad sacks, assholes and losers in Vonnegut's novels.

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
433
Apr. 13th, 2007 12:32 am (UTC)
I like all of those folks you mentioned, including Vonnegut! Uh-oh!
wombat_socho
Apr. 13th, 2007 01:54 pm (UTC)
There's nothing wrong with that; de gustibus non disputandum, as the old Roman said when she kissed the cow. I just don't understand people who go around calling him a great writer. He wasn't. At his best he was Fred Saberhagen, somebody who could take an interesting idea and not bore the crap out of you with it. At his worst he was the man he lampooned in a couple of his novels, Kilgore Trout.
qob
Apr. 13th, 2007 12:37 am (UTC)
I had some quite negative thoughts about him, but refrained out of the basic death respect. Not that I fault your candor.
wombat_socho
Apr. 13th, 2007 01:50 pm (UTC)
On the one hand, we're supposed to speak no evil of the dead, but on the other hand, aren't we supposed to be honest?
qob
Apr. 13th, 2007 02:13 pm (UTC)
yup, thus my silence, but again I appreciate your expression of opinion.
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OK, here is an opinion that is totally heretical:
Vonnegut was an expression of a movement that has essentially doomed western thought. Evan Sayet recently did a wonderful job expressing what has happened to our civilization, essentially expanding on the Scripture, "Woe to them that call good evil and evil good." The 3 figures of the 20th century that had the most influence in moral equivalence where Gandhi, John Lennon, and in prominence by dint of his death, Kurt Vonnegut.

Where Gandhi saw no difference between warring for conquest and self-defense, Lennon imagined a world without judgment and discretion and Vonnegut saw the war of liberation that had to bomb Dresden and Hiroshima as indistinguishable from the Holocaust. While these are valid personal exercises in morality, it leaves us with a generation of "men without chests" to echo C.S. Lewis. History will judge whether the brutality of Hitler or the philosophical castration of moral equivalence was more evil.
wombat_socho
Apr. 13th, 2007 03:52 pm (UTC)
I'd say B, myself, but then I'm a Falangist Libertarian. Not that A was any prize either, mind you.

I have problems with Gandhi, myself, but they're really outside the scope of this thread. As for Lennon, well...he was young and stupid, and I suspect that age would have brought wisdom, as it did to a lot of rockers in his generation. (Cf. Joe Strummer and Keith Richards)
nornagest
Apr. 13th, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
I really dislike some of the Vonnegut books that mainstream critics most adore (especially Slaughterhouse-Five, which alternately bored and irritated me until the last five pages), but I'll give the man credit for writing Cat's Cradle; it was probably the most depressing book I've ever read, and I mean that as a high compliment.

I think he was good at what he did, but he was definitely a little too addicted to using pulp sci-fi tropes in a self-conscious attempt at irony. His short stories are considerably better than his full-length prose.
wombat_socho
Apr. 13th, 2007 01:49 pm (UTC)
He deserves major props for "Harrison Bergeron Smith", but the rest of his work isn't remotely worthy of all the praise showered on it over the years. Then again, considering who's doing the praising...
(Deleted comment)
wombat_socho
Apr. 14th, 2007 08:01 pm (UTC)
Sorry you never liked him, but please let those of us who mourn him do so in peace.
This is why I kept my opinions to my own LJ and didn't shitpostcomment in other peoples' journals about this. Maybe I should have used a cut? *shrug*
(Anonymous)
Apr. 14th, 2007 09:52 pm (UTC)
'Scuse me? I thought I was being polite (the thing about literary scholarship was meant to be self-deprecating). Figured you might be interested in another point of view. I didn't mean to be down on you.

But if you're going to react like that over a simple, non-confrontational comment, then forget it. Bye.
wombat_socho
Apr. 14th, 2007 11:38 pm (UTC)
You were, and I think you misunderstood what I meant by my reply. It occurs to me that since what I post appears on your LJ (albeit in your friends page) it might have been more polite of me to put what I had to say about Vonnegut behind a cut.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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