Discussion Group Read for April 15, 2020 -- The Damned Thing, by Ambrose Bierce

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hollis517

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Mar 16, 2020
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I read The Damned Thing. Perhaps someone can explain it to me, because my initial impressions are unfavorable to apathetic. I’m sure I’m missing something.

As to the next Discussion Group Read, for April 22, 2020 —

I have two suggestions, to be considered in tandem:

(1) It’s A Good Life! (Jerome Bixby, 1953) —It's A Good Life: Jerome Bixby

(2) The Words of Guru (Cyril Kornbluth, 1941) — https://nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/sffaudio-usa/usa-pdfs/TheWordsOfGuruByC.M.KornbluthAFR5.pdf

Both should qualify as horror. I’ve commented on them several times on the SKMB and I think y’all ought to read them.
 

Kurben

The Fool on the Hill
Apr 12, 2014
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I dont know if this story really succeeds in its aim. I think that by its suggestion that there are things, predators no less, out there we can not see its a thing worthy to be scared off. I think he tries to plant the thought in the readers brain that the thing that happened to the man in the story can happen to everyone that takes a walk in a forest, if this is true. If so i fear he failed, at least for this cynical age of readers. It might have been different in the 1890,s, i don't know.
 

Kurben

The Fool on the Hill
Apr 12, 2014
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In 2006 a loosely adaptation was on a TV series- Masters of Horror. This adaptation was written by Richard Matheson.
They classified it as science fiction.
I think I took a different take on the story Kurben . One invisibility- that in the author's mind, an animal's color can be invisible to the human eye. Thus the sci fy aspect.
Im not sure i follow. Sure the color is invisible to us humans, that is scifi,. But wouldn't the thought of invisible creatures ready to kill roaming our woods be a horrifying thought??
 

Spideyman

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Jul 10, 2006
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Im not sure i follow. Sure the color is invisible to us humans, that is scifi,. But wouldn't the thought of invisible creatures ready to kill roaming our woods be a horrifying thought??
Absolutely, it is a horror thought.
Maybe this analysis will explain the reasoning of the science fiction idea over horror. To me it is both, the horror of an invisible creature and that creature being of a color my eyes can not see.


Fighting invisible monsters is a classic horror trope that may be traced to the invisible supernatural entities in O'Brien's "What Was It?" (1859) and Guy de Maupassant's "The Horla" (1887).[2] Later examples of invisibility in 19th-century fiction include "The Plattner Story" and The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells.

In his take on the issue of invisibility, Bierce chose to "foreground the limitations of human senses",[3] speculating that in the course of evolution an animal might have arisen whose color is invisible to the human eye. When accused of plagiarizing O'Brien, Bierce retorted that O'Brien's monster was "supernatural and impossible", whereas he described "a wild animal that cannot be seen, because, although opaque, like other animals, it is of invisible color".[4] As a result, "The Damned Thing" has been classed as science fiction rather than as a Gothic narrative.[5]

Bierce's quasi-scientific arguments for invisibility of certain creatures were later developed by H. P. Lovecraft in "The Colour Out of Space".[6] In Lovecraft's story "The Unnamable", Randolph Carter is attacked by "some unseen entity of titanic size but undetermined nature".[7]
 

Kurben

The Fool on the Hill
Apr 12, 2014
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Absolutely, it is a horror thought.
Maybe this analysis will explain the reasoning of the science fiction idea over horror. To me it is both, the horror of an invisible creature and that creature being of a color my eyes can not see.


Fighting invisible monsters is a classic horror trope that may be traced to the invisible supernatural entities in O'Brien's "What Was It?" (1859) and Guy de Maupassant's "The Horla" (1887).[2] Later examples of invisibility in 19th-century fiction include "The Plattner Story" and The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells.

In his take on the issue of invisibility, Bierce chose to "foreground the limitations of human senses",[3] speculating that in the course of evolution an animal might have arisen whose color is invisible to the human eye. When accused of plagiarizing O'Brien, Bierce retorted that O'Brien's monster was "supernatural and impossible", whereas he described "a wild animal that cannot be seen, because, although opaque, like other animals, it is of invisible color".[4] As a result, "The Damned Thing" has been classed as science fiction rather than as a Gothic narrative.[5]

Bierce's quasi-scientific arguments for invisibility of certain creatures were later developed by H. P. Lovecraft in "The Colour Out of Space".[6] In Lovecraft's story "The Unnamable", Randolph Carter is attacked by "some unseen entity of titanic size but undetermined nature".[7]
Yes, Bierce was a generation or two before Lovecraft and must have been an influence, even if it was a minor one. I also thought about the color out of space. The lines between Science Fiction and Horror has always been blurry and the early writers from Poe onwards has always travelled freely on both sides of the line.
 

Dana Jean

Dirty Pirate Hooker, The Return
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Apr 11, 2006
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Absolutely, it is a horror thought.
Maybe this analysis will explain the reasoning of the science fiction idea over horror. To me it is both, the horror of an invisible creature and that creature being of a color my eyes can not see.


Fighting invisible monsters is a classic horror trope that may be traced to the invisible supernatural entities in O'Brien's "What Was It?" (1859) and Guy de Maupassant's "The Horla" (1887).[2] Later examples of invisibility in 19th-century fiction include "The Plattner Story" and The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells.

In his take on the issue of invisibility, Bierce chose to "foreground the limitations of human senses",[3] speculating that in the course of evolution an animal might have arisen whose color is invisible to the human eye. When accused of plagiarizing O'Brien, Bierce retorted that O'Brien's monster was "supernatural and impossible", whereas he described "a wild animal that cannot be seen, because, although opaque, like other animals, it is of invisible color".[4] As a result, "The Damned Thing" has been classed as science fiction rather than as a Gothic narrative.[5]

Bierce's quasi-scientific arguments for invisibility of certain creatures were later developed by H. P. Lovecraft in "The Colour Out of Space".[6] In Lovecraft's story "The Unnamable", Randolph Carter is attacked by "some unseen entity of titanic size but undetermined nature".[7]
Sort of like Stallone's Predator movies. A creature there, but not seen.

I liked the language of this story. It reminded me so much of how my granddad wrote.
 

GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
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.....I've mentioned before that my dad introduced me to Bierce, when I was a kid and I ate it up(Damn paper got stuck in mah teeth tew!).....never really payed much attention to his other writings, and don't care to now....his weird tales are good'uns, and that's good enough for me.....the "damned thing" is the least of the scares for me....the group of old beards about the cabin were spookier to me......
 

Kurben

The Fool on the Hill
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.....I've mentioned before that my dad introduced me to Bierce, when I was a kid and I ate it up(Damn paper got stuck in mah teeth tew!).....never really payed much attention to his other writings, and don't care to now....his weird tales are good'uns, and that's good enough for me.....the "damned thing" is the least of the scares for me....the group of old beards about the cabin were spookier to me......
Since i havent read much Bierce.... Where do i find his weird tales??
 

Spideyman

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fljoe0

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hollis517 has made a suggestion for April 22nd discussion group read.......

I have two suggestions, to be considered in tandem:

(1) It’s A Good Life! (Jerome Bixby, 1953) —It's A Good Life: Jerome Bixby

(2) The Words of Guru (Cyril Kornbluth, 1941) — https://nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/sffaudio-usa/usa-pdfs/TheWordsOfGuruByC.M.KornbluthAFR5.pdf


hollis517

Pick one of the two and we'll be set for next week.



After that we will dig into If It Bleeds. I haven't seen a table of contents yet but I assume the stories will be long, so we may want to do 2 weeks each on the If It Bleeds stories.
 

hollis517

Well-Known Member
Mar 16, 2020
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hollis517

Pick one of the two and we'll be set for next week.



After that we will dig into If It Bleeds. I haven't seen a table of contents yet but I assume the stories will be long, so we may want to do 2 weeks each on the If It Bleeds stories.
If I have to pick one, I guess I’ll pick The Words of Guru. That last sentence … Cyril was 16 when he wrote it, sweet sixteen.