I’ve had some distancing thoughts about them recently. I’ve come to the conclusion that what superheroes might be – in their current incarnation, at least – is a symbol of American reluctance to involve themselves in any kind of conflict without massive tactical superiority. I think this is the same whether you have the advantage of carpet bombing from altitude or if you come from the planet Krypton as a baby and have increased powers in Earth’s lower gravity.
Ted Chiang is a strange author, since 1990 he’s published only 11 stories but almost every one of them has won awards and raked in plaudits.
He said if he raised his goal of $3,500 for the work, he would release a PDF of the book free for everyone. Shockingly, he raised $13,942 dollars by almost 600 donors, more than most novelists get as an advance on a first novel. Not bad for a self-published, unpublishable novella.
I have a hammer of job seeking justice and I’m going to use it to crack your robots’ heads in.
Note the huge differences in first paragraphs too!
2010: Fuck Books
How vulgar that short sentence looks, how brutal in its Germanic bluntness when juxtaposed with the ornate, mythopoetic musings that prompted it. And yet, in their violence and brevity, those two short words capture the commingled frustration and exasperated wonderment that attends to reading passages such as the one above, which are, unfortunately, all too common among what gets lauded as the finest of this country’s literature.
2001: A Reader’s Manifesto
Nothing gives me the feeling of having been born several decades too late quite like the modern “literary” best seller. Give me a time-tested masterpiece or what critics patronizingly call a fun read—Sister Carrie or just plain Carrie. Give me anything, in fact, as long as it doesn’t have a recent prize jury’s seal of approval on the front and a clutch of precious raves on the back. In the bookstore I’ll sometimes sample what all the fuss is about, but one glance at the affected prose—”furious dabs of tulips stuttering,” say, or “in the dark before the day yet was”—and I’m hightailing it to the friendly black spines of the Penguin Classics.