A Quick Short Review Round-up

Here’s a quick look a what I’ve been talking about over at Castalia House.  If you haven’t read these, check them out.  Or better yet, find these stories and read them yourself if you can!

Coming of the Gods by Chester Whitehorn – Martian vs Rat-men
Assault on a City by Jack Vance – A pulp dame saves herself from rapists.
Cosmic Yo-yo by Ross Rocklynne – Asteroid Haulers crash the competition and find true love
Mists of Mars by George A. Whittington – A Martian Princess’ revolution succeeds with the help of a space cop
The Spider Men of Gharr by Wilbur Scott Peacock – Cryofrozen action scientist awakes to find Earth conquered by evil aliens
Retro Fandom Friday – 1940s fans celebrate and complain about Sci-fi



6 responses to “A Quick Short Review Round-up

  1. More Vance!

    Incidentally, I’m now reading the Gray Prince, per your recommendation and our earlier conservation. I had a few thoughts that I wrote up (https://pcbushi.wordpress.com/2016/05/12/initial-thoughts-on-the-gray-prince/) and may do a short write-up after I’m finished, too.

    It’s interesting – your review of Assault on a City notes the criticism of urban living. The Gray Prince also seems to make a point of that, comparing the pragmatic, frontier-aristocratic land barons with the softer, naive, city-dwelling SJWs who endlessly focus on “concepts.”
    I’ve barely dipped my toe into Vance’s pool of work yet so I can’t speak to this, but I wonder if the criticism of urbanity is a common theme of his.

    • I saw! I’m looking forward to seeing what your final thoughts on it are.

      I think I’ve reached a point where I can at least say that I think Vance does have a view that city living is something of a life of illusion and pretense. I’m sure that the Eyes of the Overworld ties into this somehow (the people wearing lenses that let them see everything as far more awesome than it really is, which could also be an homage to the Wizard of Oz, in which the Emerald City was actually gun-metal grey and the wizard made everyone wear green glasses), but I haven’t had a chance to really gather my thoughts on it.

      • Interesting. I haven’t read the original Wizard of Oz since I was a little kid (if being read to even counts), so I didn’t remember that fact! So much more to read.

      • It was part of the top-level metaphor for 19th century American economics; hard specie currency had intrinsic value, while greenbacks only had value because the central government told people they did. Hence, the Emerald City, which represents Washington and the federal monetary policy, is not actually made of emeralds (is not actually valuable), and people only assume that it is because the Wizard (the government) has told them it is, and the green glasses are blinders that make everyone assume that it actually is splendorous (greenbacks are mandatorily acceptable as legal tender for payment at the decree of the government, despite being worthless).

        The original Wizard of Oz is pretty nutso along those lines!

  2. Man, really adds depth to some of these stories when you know their historical context. I must confess I’m largely ignorant much of the time and many of the underlying messages probably escape me.

    So I imagine Baum was a supporter of the gold standard, then. Funny, but I guess not surprising, that so much of the political commentary of such a popular story has been lost or doesn’t apply anymore (or simply doesn’t interest anyone anymore).

    • Silver, actually. The Gold road led to the Emerald City; it would’ve been a detriment to the farmers, since, as gold was more valuable, it was less liquid and would therefore require the use of greenbacks. Hollywood mucked up the metaphor by making Dorothy’s magic slippers Ruby instead of silver. Even by the early 20th century, then, the metaphor was becoming lost on the public.

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