persona non sequitur

a review of media by a slightly jaded baby boomer.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Note: this was written several years back and discovered on a computer disk, Hopefully, it will still make sense.

I thought about AGRIPPA, the "Book of the Dead" which is William Gibson and Dennis Ashbaugh's submission to the world of limited editions. It is a short story artifact. The story is on a computer disk surrounded by decorated debris. After a while, I couldn't think of anything that would make me want to own one (the price tag ranging from $450 to $7500 was another factor). I thought that most telling item was the "gimmick". It could only be read once. After that, you could not call the story up on the screen. It was gone. I mean, you have only one chance. And what if it's incompatible with the system you now own?
Or there isn't enough memory. Or a phone call interrupts. There's a power blackout. It's gone.

I think this is a gimmick. I think if the story was really any good, William Gibson would have wanted it widely published and not held hostage in prestigious packaging. $450 for a short story at a pop better display some skills at wordsmithing. And Gibson's career has stalled since NEUROMANCER, and he needs a gimmick to make people pay attention.

I thought about this and it reminded me of one strange book collector I met. He had flown in from Los Angeles California to Baltimore Maryland to obtain autographs for his Anne McCaffrey books. He yakked about owning this and that and talked about the LeGuin Earthsea books, which at the time I had not read. "Which one did you like the best?" I asked.
"Which LeGuin book did you like the best?"
"Which edition?"
"No. Reading. Did you read the Earthsea books?"
"No. I just have first editions."
"You don't read your books?"
"No. I just collect them."
"You don't read your books?
"No. I just use them to decorate my office. I'm a dentist."
"None of your books?"
"No. I just collect them. What's wrong with that?" He also added later about a writer who had died some weeks before that he was glad to have gotten his books autographed the year before and now he's dead and those books will be worth something soon. I was deeply touched by this. I held off throwing up on him.

I could not really answer to those items, but I thought it was a little bit strange. Illiterate selfishness? I am unsure. But over the years I've encountered some off the wall singular minded people when it comes to collecting: only Ray Bradbury. Only Heinlein. Only Niven. Only Piers Anthony. Only Stephen King. Only mainstream novels by Sf writers. Only porno novels written by SF writers. Only movie adaptations. One collector had ten different binding variants of C.L. Moore's JUDGEMENT NIGHT. One collector wanted only badly written novels, accepting a book I'd suggested with, "Okay. I'll buy it. But it had better be bad." Comic book adaptations of SF novels. As strange as some collectors are or have gotten there is no SFfans equal to the rock scene "plaster casters". I sincerely hope not.

George H. Wells, fan from New York, spent several years looking for the novelisation for the low budget cheapie picture called WEREWOLF VERSUS VAMPIRE WOMAN, claiming the true horror of the book was in its sentence structure. Later George discovered the novelized screen play to a Dino DeLaurentis rip off called QUEEN KONG. (I know that a "DeLaurentis Rip Off" sounds kind of far fetched, but the book exists, the movie was made and still from the production were in the book. I'd like a copy of it.)*

* Watching the movie of it has put me off from wanting a copy, since A) it a horrid movie and B) it goes for $50+ bucks.


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