Discussion Group Read for April 22, 2020--The Words of Guru by Cyril Kombluth

  • This message board permanently closed on June 30th, 2020 at 4PM EDT and is no longer accepting new members.

Kurben

The Fool on the Hill
Apr 12, 2014
9,682
65,192
55
sweden
I don't know about this one..... The thought of words like that is, of course, terrifying but somehow Kornbluth doesn't make me feel it. I read the story and i understand it but i dont feel it. I think too many episodes is just passed over in a sentence that could have needed some more flesh on the bone to really have an effect on the reader. The episode of Mary is an example. So all in all i found it interesting but not really good. Just my opinion of course. I'm sure others will be all over it.
 

cat in a bag

Well-Known Member
Aug 28, 2010
12,038
67,827
wyoming
Not sure if I'll be able to be here tonight so will leave my thoughts now.

I agree with Kurben. Could have been fleshed out a little to convey the power and horror of these "magic" words. I did not much care for the character. He was too arrogant, from the start. Genius baby or not. The arrogance is justified I suppose, if he is some kind of "chosen one" but again, it works against itself by not really expanding on what exactly the words
do.
I was not scared of him, just thought he was arrogant.
 

Kurben

The Fool on the Hill
Apr 12, 2014
9,682
65,192
55
sweden
Not sure if I'll be able to be here tonight so will leave my thoughts now.

I agree with Kurben. Could have been fleshed out a little to convey the power and horror of these "magic" words. I did not much care for the character. He was too arrogant, from the start. Genius baby or not. The arrogance is justified I suppose, if he is some kind of "chosen one" but again, it works against itself by not really expanding on what exactly the words
do.
I was not scared of him, just thought he was arrogant.
Yes, he is not really likeable and obviously feels he is way over everyone else. Just a thought about the ending, the word to end it all, can that be a reference to the fear people had and have of nuclear weapons? This was written in the early 40,s, before the first Nuclearbomb but i guess the fear of what would happen if such a bomb did go off was very real before that. And there, just as in this story, there is only one man to decide when it should go off. Be it by means of pushing a button or saying the word. Do you think there is anything in that thought?? I don't know, it just struck me as a possibility.
 

cat in a bag

Well-Known Member
Aug 28, 2010
12,038
67,827
wyoming
Yes, he is not really likeable and obviously feels he is way over everyone else. Just a thought about the ending, the word to end it all, can that be a reference to the fear people had and have of nuclear weapons? This was written in the early 40,s, before the first Nuclearbomb but i guess the fear of what would happen if such a bomb did go off was very real before that. And there, just as in this story, there is only one man to decide when it should go off. Be it by means of pushing a button or saying the word. Do you think there is anything in that thought?? I don't know, it just struck me as a possibility.
Yes, that is what I thought of too. :)
 

Dana Jean

Dirty Pirate Hooker, The Return
Moderator
Apr 11, 2006
53,633
236,696
The High Seas
I agree with all you guys said so great, Kurben and cat in a bag .

What is interesting is the guy himself. He had quite a body of work for someone who died so young -- 34, heart attack shoveling snow.

And he was an odd duck. Apparently he never brushed his teeth, they were literally green. Creative people are unique little creatures.

 

fljoe0

Cantre Member
Apr 5, 2008
15,859
71,642
59
120 miles S of the Pancake/Waffle line
Yes, he is not really likeable and obviously feels he is way over everyone else. Just a thought about the ending, the word to end it all, can that be a reference to the fear people had and have of nuclear weapons? This was written in the early 40,s, before the first Nuclearbomb but i guess the fear of what would happen if such a bomb did go off was very real before that. And there, just as in this story, there is only one man to decide when it should go off. Be it by means of pushing a button or saying the word. Do you think there is anything in that thought?? I don't know, it just struck me as a possibility.

I think you are on to something there. I was trying to figure out what the author was trying to get across with this story and when I read your post, the light bulb went off.
 

fljoe0

Cantre Member
Apr 5, 2008
15,859
71,642
59
120 miles S of the Pancake/Waffle line
I agree with all you guys said so great, Kurben and cat in a bag .

What is interesting is the guy himself. He had quite a body of work for someone who died so young -- 34, heart attack shoveling snow.

And he was an odd duck. Apparently he never brushed his teeth, they were literally green. Creative people are unique little creatures.



Like everyone else, I thought the story was a little bare bones but I thought the story was interesting enough to check out some of his other stuff. I can tell from this story that he's probably someone I would enjoy reading. I could only find a couple of anthologies on Amazon so I don't know how much is still in print. He certainly wrote a lot of short stories. Back when he was alive, I think short stories were the best way for a SF writer to make a few bucks.
 

Kurben

The Fool on the Hill
Apr 12, 2014
9,682
65,192
55
sweden
I agree with all you guys said so great, Kurben and cat in a bag .

What is interesting is the guy himself. He had quite a body of work for someone who died so young -- 34, heart attack shoveling snow.

And he was an odd duck. Apparently he never brushed his teeth, they were literally green. Creative people are unique little creatures.

Well, of course he didn't.... He didn't wanna wear them out!1 :D
 

Dana Jean

Dirty Pirate Hooker, The Return
Moderator
Apr 11, 2006
53,633
236,696
The High Seas
Like everyone else, I thought the story was a little bare bones but I thought the story was interesting enough to check out some of his other stuff. I can tell from this story that he's probably someone I would enjoy reading. I could only find a couple of anthologies on Amazon so I don't know how much is still in print. He certainly wrote a lot of short stories. Back when he was alive, I think short stories were the best way for a SF writer to make a few bucks.
Are any on public domain sites? I was really surprised at how many he had churned out.

That's what is really frustrating in the writing world. Many authors I would like to read sold stories to zines, web or print, that are no longer publishing. You can't find the issues, you can't find the stories. So they are lost to time? Not fair.

And I would think that most authors want to reach as many people as possible. When it's sitting in a dead zone, no one's reading it. I mean, isn't that the point of writing in the first place?
 

Kurben

The Fool on the Hill
Apr 12, 2014
9,682
65,192
55
sweden
Are any on public domain sites? I was really surprised at how many he had churned out.

That's what is really frustrating in the writing world. Many authors I would like to read sold stories to zines, web or print, that are no longer publishing. You can't find the issues, you can't find the stories. So they are lost to time? Not fair.

And I would think that most authors want to reach as many people as possible. When it's sitting in a dead zone, no one's reading it. I mean, isn't that the point of writing in the first place?
I don't know really. Some of his more known novels, like Search the Sky and Space Merchants are in print. There ought to be anthologies of his short stories out there somewhere. I know that his friend F. Pohl, another SF-writer has published some anthologies of Kornbluths work in that area and they ought to be somewhere because its not so very long ago he did that (at least it doesn't feel like that.) probably the 80,s or 90,s.
 

hollis517

Well-Known Member
Mar 16, 2020
50
208
66
Like everyone else, I thought the story was a little bare bones but I thought the story was interesting enough to check out some of his other stuff. I can tell from this story that he's probably someone I would enjoy reading. I could only find a couple of anthologies on Amazon so I don't know how much is still in print. He certainly wrote a lot of short stories. Back when he was alive, I think short stories were the best way for a SF writer to make a few bucks.
Check out The Space Merchants, written with Frederik Pohl(1952). It’s chock-full of interesting speculation. The Space Merchants - Wikipedia