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March 26, 2009

Silk and Steel and Tripe
Posted by Teresa at 07:30 PM * 96 comments

Certain neighborhoods of the blogosphere are in raptures over Ron Miller’s Silk and Steel, a fantasy novel published by Avon in 1992, then republished in 2001 by Timberwolf in a revised POD edition.

Start by reading Vandonovan’s scan of a nominally erotic scene on pages 96-97. Ciaran_h has done us the kindness of transcribing a few pages of it, so here’s a very inadequate teaser quote:

Her legs were quills. They were bundles of wicker, they were candelabra; the muscles were summer lightning, that flickered like a passing thought; they were captured eels or a cable on a windlass. Her thighs were geese, pythons, schooners. They were cypress or banyan; her thighs were a forge, they were shears; her thighs were sandstone, they were the sandstone buttresses of a cathedral, they were silk or cobwebs. Her calves were sweet with the sap of elders, her feet were bleached bones, her feet were driftwood. Her feet were springs, marmosets or locusts; her toes were snails, they were snails with shells of tears.
You have to see the whole thing. I can’t improve on—indeed, I very nearly repeated—the first comment on Vandonovan’s post:
And then there’s “Valmont,” who reviewed the book on Amazon:
This book is a treasure mine for metaphors such as “her neck was a bottle of wine covered in dew and otters”. Yes. Otters. There are also interesting comparisons between the aforementioned young lady’s feet and marmosets (i.e New World monkeys). This book might be a literary Hindenburg, but it has made me laugh like few others before.”
But really, no one can top Ron Miller himself:
Then, as quickly as a balloon inflated at a vendor’s tank, and with much the same hiss and squeak, the gryphon was as large as a Great Dane. Bronwyn felt the recoil from a sharp glance of molten copper eyes, before a final burst flung the monster to its full height, far above her head. She held breath and heart still in utter, utter awe. …

Its steel claws had enveloped her like a cage when, with a shriek like a steam locomotive, the gryphon disintegrated. Bronwyn was scooped from the earth, tumbling into a huge, soft hollow, and the pit of her stomach wrenched with the sensation of rising rapidly. She looked up and for the one dizzying moment before she lost consciousness she saw, towering above her like a mountain, the abundant, boundless, heaven-crowned figure of Thud Mollockle.

The book’s new fans have busily gone to work upon it, and Vandonovan’s been collecting the resulting links:

Vandonovan, pp. 96-97.

Vandonovan, pp. 98-101.


Ciaran_h, p. 96.

Ciaran_h, p. 97.

Niqaeli, pp. 98-101.


Maggock attempts a literal rendering.

Entropy_house presents Our Lady of the Metaphors.

Audio versions:

Deutschtard’s dramatic reading, pp. 96-97.

Shmuel’s dramatic reading, pp. 96-101.

Sinnsyk’s dramatic reading, pp. 96-101, “with music and a surprise twist ending.”


Kayay’s video of page 96, using Deutschtard’s dramatic reading.

Watch out for your keyboard.
Comments on Silk and Steel and Tripe:
#1 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 07:47 PM:

This is a parody, right?

Does Thud have a friend named Thwack Bollocks?

#2 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 07:51 PM:

And is that link to a real Amazon page with a real quote by the real Arthur C. Clarke?

Then again, "is unfairly talented," is up there with "at the top of his game."

#3 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 07:53 PM:

Her legs were quills.

His manhood was the inkwell.

#4 ::: annalee flower horne ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 08:07 PM:

Hmm. Serge, I think you'd have to flip that about.

--actually, it doesn't scan that way, either. Carry on.

#5 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 08:09 PM:

Breathing concentrated otters?

#6 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 08:16 PM:

I read this book, originally, years ago. It then went onto the "special" shelf of oddities and curiosities. But frankly, I always figured that the author had been told to put in a couple of sex scenes, figured that nobody reads those anyway, or at least not editors, and decided to have fun.

#7 ::: Michael Roberts ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 08:18 PM:

"As the otter exudes the precious otter of roses..." (Pogo) 'S all I've got.

#8 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 08:20 PM:

Otters. Otters?

I like otters. They're delightful creatures. But I don't think I know any women who would feel complimented if their smell was likened to the smell of otters.

I think, just perhaps, he might have been groping in vain for the word "attars", and came away with an otter clamped onto his fingers instead.

Otters. Do you remember the days of wine and otters?

#9 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 08:23 PM:

fragrance of a gibbous moon:
a) The moon is too far away to smell
b) Trying to smell things in a vacuum would be dangerous if you were actually there
c) Moon dust is sharp-edged silica powder that would be bad for your lungs if you inhaled it.

But is this comment actually necessary?

#10 ::: Angiportus ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 08:34 PM:

Sandstone? OUCH.
Otterly bizarre.

#11 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 08:37 PM:

Teresa, the last two sentences of your first blockquoted paragraph look as if they're you, not part of the quote. (Either that, or they're the person putting up the bit from the book.) For clarity's sake, they need to be pulled out of the block.

#12 ::: ADM ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 08:39 PM:

Yeah ... I saw that at an LJ friend's and OMG ... it is mind-boggling. It manages to combine the most bizarro of metaphors and similes with the kind of language that is the antithesis of erotic - or at least it is for me.

I have say that Victor @ 6's thought crossed my mind, too!

#13 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 08:40 PM:

Synesthesia is the only thing I can assume here to have it make even remote sense. (I can almost follow the writing - he's doing comparisons using sight and touch, I think.)

(Also, shouldn't the first block quote end right before 'You have to read the whole thing'? Maybe nested block quotes?)

#14 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 08:41 PM:

Perhaps the author was inspired by the Song of Songs.

#15 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:05 PM:

Erik Nelson @ 9:

Of all the clangers in the text, that's the one that got me the most.

The whole thing reads kind of like he read Song of Songs, decided that anything Solomon could do he could do better, then changed simile to metaphor with disasterous results.

#16 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:05 PM:

John @#14

Perhaps "inspired" is not the word we want here.

#17 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:12 PM:

"Her legs were quills"? Presumably she was writing in ecstasy.

#18 ::: Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:13 PM:

I think we need to ask Professor Farnsworth about the fragrance of a gibbous moon.

#19 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:13 PM:

Teresa, tripe can make an excellent stew with white beans. Why are you insulting it?

#20 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:16 PM:

"Her breasts were citrus." Limes? Ugli fruit? Lemons? Seville oranges? Bergamots?

#21 ::: Sharon Mock ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:18 PM:

Buddha's Hands.

#22 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:31 PM:

Sharon Mock @ 21:


Now I won't be able to sleep tonight. Thanks.

#23 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:33 PM:

Today on "When Madlibs Go Wrong ... "

#24 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:44 PM:

Ron Miller really is a very talented artist; I have an art book and at least one print by him, and have enjoyed looking at his work in many a convention art show.

He should have played to his strengths instead of trying to branch out.

#25 ::: Sylvia ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:50 PM:

P J Evans @13

I'm sorry, I'm not sure even synesthesia would explain the snail toes. *shiver*

#6, from VictorS,
But frankly, I always figured that the author had been told to put in a couple of sex scenes, figured that nobody reads those anyway, or at least not editors, and decided to have fun.

That at least makes some sense.

#26 ::: ers ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 09:57 PM:

I'm sure I'm not alone in missing Mike Ford at times like these. Alev ha'shalom.

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 10:27 PM:

annalee flower horne @ 4... Well, the ink has to come from somewhere.

Meanwhile the Gryphon squeaks.

#28 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 10:30 PM:

her thighs were a forge, they were shears

...which is why she never gets asked out for a date by guys.

#29 ::: beth meacham ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 10:41 PM:

Sure, there are the gaudy metaphors to send us all rolling on the floor. But this: "she held her heart still" is a subtle but spectacular image.

#30 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:05 PM:

(ahem ahem)


#31 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:25 PM:

Her calves were sweet with the sap of elders


#32 ::: Ross Smith ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:29 PM:

Lee @ 24: Are you sure it's the same Ron Miller? It's not exactly an unusual name.

Although, come to think of it, that would explain the Clarke quote.

#33 ::: HP ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:38 PM:

@ Beth #29: I had a music teacher in college who would sometimes describe the ensemble as sounding like "buckshot through a harp." I find a most apt analogy for all kinds of things.

#34 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:52 PM:

Is the entire book like this? I suppose it must be.
No comment seems adequate.

#35 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: March 26, 2009, 11:57 PM:

I am being kept up by a rather annoying sinus condition -- and now I am choking because I cannot breathe either way from laughing hysterically. I warn you, if I pass out it's all your fault!

And if you were an intelligent man, wouldn't you run away from a woman whose thighs were shears?

#36 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 12:13 AM:

Is tripe the past tense of trope?

#37 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 12:37 AM:

My goodness, it's like reading a string of random word association.


*snort* Ow, my nose...

#38 ::: cgeye ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 12:57 AM:

This has to become a Broadway musical. HAS TO.

Maybe staged for an experimental festival first, to build its following, then a chamber-opera staging, with good stars, to whet the appetite stone.

Hell, if The Toxic Avenger can make it to the Great White Way, why not this? Why not the best of its kind? I smell Lippa, and a Tony!

#39 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 01:10 AM:

Do you think the author was trying to break a record for most Thog's Masterclass quotes per page?

#40 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 01:17 AM:

This book is the prose equivalent of an Archimboldo painting. Reading it is just like seeing an image of a woman's face made out of cuts of meat and cheese.

#41 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 01:42 AM:

I think the "otters" was a spell-check error (perhaps at the publisher's production stage) for otto.

As in:


Swiftly fled each honeyed hour
Spent with this unmanly male!
Camberwell became a bower,
Peckham an Arcadian Vale,
Breathing concentrated otto!--
An existence a la Watteau.


Bless us, concentrated otto!
An existence a la Watteau.

#42 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 01:56 AM:

Ross, #32: That was my first thought as well, but then I found something (which, of course, now I can't find again) indicating that it was in fact the same guy.

And OMG, there's a review quote up on Amazon from Allen Steele. Who really is a good writer, and cannot possibly have actually read this claptrap!

#43 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 01:59 AM:

Hly fckng sht.

I DID have to check this before I went to bed and now have tears rolling down my face from attempting to stay silent and read comments.

The rest of the household is asleep.


#44 ::: Irene Delse ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 02:23 AM:

@ Serge #31: Maybe the alder sap thing was getting old...

#45 ::: VictorS ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 02:33 AM:

Lizzie L @ 34 -- Actually, no, the whole book isn't really like this. Or else I've blocked it out -- it's been years since I read it. It's a rather ordinary adventure story with these occasional outbursts of... well, of whatever that is.

I've been waiting for somebody to quote the _other_ sex scene in the book, and nobody thus far has taken up the challenge. Chez nous, there is an argument as to whether the choicest bit is:
"Beads of sweat appeared like popcorn"
"She felt like... a cancelled invoice on a spike."

Though "The universe had shrunk until it contained herself alone; then it began to contract further still...[her] eyes vanished like soap bubbles, pop, pop..." is in the running.
Pages 130-132 in the Ace edition, for those of you playing along at home.

#46 ::: Comesleep ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 03:14 AM:

P J Evans @ 13:

Dunno. Not the sort of synaesthesia I've got, then, that's for sure.
(Aside from the fragrance of the Moon thing. The Moon smells like honeysuckle, and occasionally like snow.)

I saw this a bit ago on LJ, and was particularly amused by the ferret-tongue. I think that would get old really quick.

#47 ::: Doug ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 04:21 AM:

Avon, iirc, was (is?) a respectable imprint, and per #45 above there was also an Ace edition. And sometimes we wonder why people think that any damn thing at all can get published?

#48 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 06:04 AM:

This book needs to be translated into Lolcat.

#49 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 07:32 AM:

I find it oddly relaxing to read, actually. Just let the otters wash over you. Watch out for their tiny little claws though.

And it's bad, but not bad like slush. Bad like Atlanta Nights. I suspect boredom, perversity and a sense of humour have more to do with this than incompetence.

#50 ::: Scott ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 07:49 AM:

It's like... somebody read the first 2 chapters of Snow Crash, and then vomited on a keyboard, and published it.

It really is stunning work. It takes more than carelessness to do something like that.

#51 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 08:05 AM:

Coming soon to a cinema near you, "The Lives of Otters".

14 is right: it does read like some of the odder bits of the Song of Songs.

"O my beloved, thou art fair; thy neck is as a gasometer hung about with loss adjusters; thy lips are like staplers, wherein no anteaters dwell; from thy lips drip ambivalence..."

#52 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 08:50 AM:

I admire Ron Miller. A lot.

He has done tremendous work with his astronomical art; with his writings in the history of spaceflight, SF, and art; and with his efforts to keep classic science fiction in the public eye.

I admit I have not read Silk and Steel. I bought a copy some years ago-- "Hey! I didn't know Ron Miller wrote fantasy novels, too!"-- but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

I suppose anything an author writes exposes him to the possibility of ridicule. But people should know about the good work he's done.

Extracts from Ron Miller's Wikipedia entry (accurate so far as I know):

...freelance illustrator and author; to date he has nearly forty book titles to his credit, and his illustrations have appeared on scores of book jackets, book interiors and in magazines such as National Geographic, Reader's Digest, Scientific American, Smithsonian, Analog, Starlog, Air & Space, Sky & Telescope, Newsweek, Natural History, Discover, GEO and others.

Miller has translated and illustrated new editions of Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon and Journey to the Center of the Earth as well as a companion/atlas to Verne's works, Extraordinary Voyages. He has acted as a consultant on Verne for Walt Disney Imagineering and A&E Television Network's Biography series. Miller's book The Dream Machines, a comprehensive 744-page history of manned spacecraft, was nominated for the International Astronautical Federation's Manuscript Award and won the Booklist Editor's Choice Award. His original paintings are in numerous private and public collections, including the Smithsonian Institution and the Pushkin Museum (Moscow).
He designed a set of ten commemorative postage stamps for the U.S. Postal Service. He has been a production illustrator for motion pictures, notably Dune and Total Recall; and he designed and co-directed the computer-generated show ride film, Impact!

Take a look at his homepage.

He runs, Black Cat Press, publishing POD (I think) editions of interesting 19th- and early-20th-century SF and proto-SF books as well as his own novels.

He co-authored a very interesting article reconsidering Jules Verne in the light of Paris in the Twentieth Century, a Verne novel found in a safe 126 years after it had been written.

He is a custodian of Chesley Bonestell's classic space art.

Remember that Carl Sagan's novel Contact was not his most important contribution to our culture. I hope Silk and Steel is not the only work by which Ron Miller is judged.

#53 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 09:12 AM:

I think I recall reading that moondust smells of gunpowder, if I'm remembering correctly.

#54 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 09:52 AM:

Jon Meltzer #48: This book needs to be translated into Lolcat.

This is possible, but there are dialects to deal with.

#55 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 10:21 AM:

#54: Unfortunately that translator, like about all on-line machine translators I've seen, is word for word and doesn't give the expressive flair of the target language's metaphors and idioms. A native speaker is needed, I guess ...

#56 ::: Adrian ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 10:55 AM:

It looks like the author read The Song of Songs and thought the metaphors were not dramatic enough for modern tastes. Comments elsewhere mocked it for calling a romantic hero "Spikenard," but I thought that was an appropriate pointer. Fair warning, if a book is going to go off in directions like, "You are fair, my darling, ah, you are fair. Your eyes are like doves behind your veil. Your hair is like a flock of goats..."

#57 ::: Beable ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 11:33 AM:

O my Luve's like a fragrant, gibbous moon
That's newly waxed in June:
O my Luve's like the anemone,
The ferret foxed too soon.

As fair art thou, your bonie ass,
Fresh-baked in loaves are they;
And I will luve thou's ivory eggs,
That the onely phonenix lay.

#58 ::: Beable ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 11:37 AM:

Damned typos. That's meant to be a lonely phoenix. Though now I wonder whether an onely one would strut around, certain in it's unique place in the world.

#59 ::: Micah ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 11:45 AM:

My first thought on seeing the ridiculous description of the woman was that she was made of a great deal too many different things. I immediately developed a mental image of God making humans out of clay, then just grabbing anything and everything else nearby and sticking it to the clay as well.

#60 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 11:54 AM:

She felt like... a cancelled invoice on a spike."

Yikes. That's a vivid image of a horrible death. I do not find it at all erotic.

I particularly like entropy_house's art. I mean, I actually like it aesthetically, as well as liking the joke.

Also, otters are adorable. But it would really only take one of them to cover a bottle of wine, and I'm not sure I want otters on my neck.

#61 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 01:25 PM:

ok so anyway, how did this ever get published? And how did it get republished?

#62 ::: Constance ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 01:38 PM:

Legs like quills presumably would be effective anti-rape devices. As many of the other things her nethers are described as being.

A parody, a joke, a caper?

Or just somebody who doesn't care much for women and their bodies?

#63 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 01:50 PM:

Her breasts were sand. They were an Iron Man action figure. Her bra was the figure's bubble wrap; it was the disappointment of an 8-year-old boy denied Iron Man.

#64 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 06:27 PM:

She felt like... a cancelled invoice on a spike.

That is an interesting metaphor for "well and truly fncked", but not at all in the erotic sense.

#65 ::: JD Rhoades ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 07:38 PM:

As my friend Rivka once said (quoting a student's writing): We should all be more respectful of otters.

Her calves were sweet with the sap of elders

Apparently she'd just arrived from some geriatric gangbang.

#66 ::: Lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 09:17 PM:

My mistress' foot is not a marmoset;
There is no otter living on her neck.
If spines were snakes, I'd hate to charm a set.
Her eyes are not dark birds, nor do they peck.

I have seen morels sauteed, wrinkly brown,
But no such morels see I on her tits.
She doesn't wear a cobra helm to town,
And if she did, I'd think she'd lost her wits.

I love to hear her speak, and well I know
An oral ferret no clear language yields.
I grant I've seen no swarms of locusts go:
My mistress' feet quite seldom denude fields.

And yet, I think my love a better deal
Than anything described in Silk and Steel.

#67 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 09:17 PM:

I'm particularly impressed by the fan art and the video.

#68 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 09:20 PM:

**bowing before the greatness that is Lighthill**

If anyone doubts that there is a power for good in the universe, let him or her contemplate the excellence that can spring from contemplation of truly bad writing.

#69 ::: David Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 09:45 PM:

Bill Higgins @#52: I hope Silk and Steel is not the only work by which Ron Miller is judged.

Oh, surely not, though it was certainly worth reminding us that this is not the creation of a damaged mind... but apparently, a very silly one!

As noted by prior commenters, one does not achieve this level of weirdness through mere carelessness... but boredom and/or mischief would certainly account for it! (I wonder if he was waiting for somebody to notice those scenes?)

#70 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 10:03 PM:

*applauds Lighthill*

#71 ::: Ron Sullivan ::: (view all by) ::: March 27, 2009, 10:44 PM:

Miller deserves a Gary K. Wolf Award for that. What do you mean there's no Gary K. Wolf award?!? Well there is now and I hereby award it.

Fragano Legister @ 30: "Her breasts were citrus." Limes? Ugli fruit? Lemons? Seville oranges? Bergamots?

Peau d' orange?

Ew, sorry.

Unfortunately I'm too d#mned sick to read the rest of the thread. My eternal slimy curse upon the inventor of 'Fruitless' mulberry, that indefatigable useless pollinator, and while I'm at it, on my own immune "system." When you're too sick to laugh you're too sick to live.

(No, I'm safe.)

#72 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 01:36 AM:

Lighthill, #66: Bravo! That's one of my favorites you're riffing on there.

#73 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 02:29 AM:

Fragano Ledgister #20: "Her breasts were citrus." Limes? Ugli fruit? Lemons? Seville oranges? Bergamots?

Durians, I would think, although classifying them as citrus is a bit of a stretch.

#74 ::: KeithS ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 02:52 AM:

Lighthill @ 66:

Well done.

Earl Cooley III @ 73:

I have been given to understand that breasts are not supposed to be large, hard, spiky and smelly. If I am incorrect, I would appreciate someone telling me.

#75 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 04:29 AM:

""Ron Miller is unfairly talented." -- Sir Arthur C Clarke"

I can only assume that Clarke meant this as a negation of "fairly talented".

#76 ::: Jon H ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 04:45 AM:

Or, having read the thread, Clarke thought he was blurbing a book of Miller's visual art.

#77 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 05:40 AM:

NelC #53 I think I recall reading that moondust smells of gunpowder, if I'm remembering correctly.

I recall reading and/or hearing that it is a similar smell and it's due to the dust/rock oxidising in the Earth's atmosphere.

#78 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 07:59 AM:

From time to time, I end up with military sf in my hand, relentlessly realistic literal descriptions written by an author who never metaphor he wouldn't kill.

After that? This is a breath of fresh air.

#79 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 08:42 AM:

John, I suppose you could class some of what I've written as "military SF".

Just looking at it, as I dug out the link, there are a couple of things I need to adjust.

Then again, I don't have my hero taking out the enemy starship with a nuclear satchel-charge. (I missed Cross of Iron, the last time it was on TV; that film shows the principle, but it doesn't scale well.)

Oh, while I remember... The trick with dinner plates as fake anti-tank mines: Tom Winteringham was teaching that at Osterly Park in 1940. But he was more than Communist enough to frighten the average writer of military SF.

#80 ::: tykewriter ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 09:23 AM:

No, come on. There are commas.
"Bottles of wine, covered with dew, and otters."
Her neck reminds him of bottles of wine covered in dew, and also of otters.
Anything else would be ridiculous. Well, wouldn't it?
Simples. *squk*

#81 ::: Micah ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 09:38 AM:

I hope someone makes T-shirts inspired by this genius. This is the sort of unique work that deserves to frighten and confuse the unwary.

#82 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 03:16 PM:

Micah (#59): I immediately developed a mental image of God making humans out of clay, then just grabbing anything and everything else nearby and sticking it to the clay as well.

That would be the Creation scene from the little-known Katamari Damacy Bible.

#83 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: March 28, 2009, 09:10 PM:

He has to have been having fun with us. I mean, this is Fanthorpian in its thesaurian excess; half the metaphors are contradictory and the others are senseless (fingers are incense?!)

What I find especially impressive is that the contradictions in the descriptions even of plain physical facts come so thick and fast that we depart those two pages not knowing anything more about what she looks like: even the colour of her hair is unclear, although she's probably not blonde (mahogany and chestnut are quite different colours).

It was obviously hard for anyone to stop laughing long enough to proofread it, as there's another typo lurking there ('mecury'). I'm not sure what it says about me that I spotted it...

#84 ::: Debbie ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2009, 09:32 AM:

ajay @51 -- I'm going to be seeing office supplies in quite a different light from now on. (and YOMANK)

Lighthill @66 -- bravo!

#85 ::: Lighthill ::: (view all by) ::: March 29, 2009, 09:55 PM:

Lila, Rikibeth, Lee, KeithS, Debbie, any one else I missed: Thank you! *blush*

tykewriter @ #80: I think you're right about the otters.

#86 ::: Earl Cooley III ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 04:30 AM:

KeithS #74: I have been given to understand that breasts are not supposed to be large, hard, spiky and smelly.

When I suggested durians, I was thinking along the lines of the art of Giuseppe Arcimboldo.

#87 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 05:50 AM:

Her neck was like bottles of wine and otters, in that if you removed the top you could drink something red from it.

#88 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: March 30, 2009, 11:25 PM:

As others have said, I think this is entirely on purpose. I'm almost surprised that this is a minority opinion, but I suppose we have seen enough unintentional badfic to create ambiguity in our minds... There always seems to me a difference between bad poetry written unintentionally, and bad poetry written by good writers. (Atlanta Nights is another obvious example of the kind - and in fact that was what first brought me to ML.) We know where the top is, and we leap over it with self-conscious zeal.

By the way: Lighthill @ 66, you give great glee.

#89 ::: Autumn ::: (view all by) ::: April 01, 2009, 10:59 PM:

Beable that was hilarious!

#90 ::: Nix ::: (view all by) ::: April 02, 2009, 07:40 PM:

It is not over! The next few pages have been posted for our horrification:

('... eyes as empty as cups.' But, uh, cups can be full...)

#91 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: April 03, 2009, 04:08 PM:


...bryan wins!

#93 ::: Laura Runkle ::: (view all by) ::: April 05, 2009, 10:46 PM:

re:65 and others, "Sweet sap of elders" may refer to the elder bush. Elder flowers are particularly sweet and fragrant, and, if you are careful, make a wonderful infusion in milk with which to make a milk pudding. Much sweeter than vanilla.

But you must be careful, as although the elder flowers are tasty, elder sap is not good for one. But if Mr. Miller has ever smelled the heady smell of elder flowers on a warm June day, he might well have put this in. Especially if he knew that elder sap, although sweet, tends to the toxic side.

#94 ::: Fishwood Loach ::: (view all by) ::: April 07, 2009, 01:42 PM:

No one has commented that this is book 2 of a trilogy. Has anyone had the morbid curiosity to read the other two?

#95 ::: clew ::: (view all by) ::: April 09, 2009, 05:12 PM:

I also like Arcimboldo; and I get something like goofy synaesthesia when overcome by love and lust together, as though all my internal editors were off. So, er, I actually rather like the paragraphs quoted.

Otters. Damn straight.

#96 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: May 01, 2009, 10:05 PM:

Ron Miller has just posted an account of the line of proto-SF and early-astronautics books he publishes. He uses print-on-demand.

I want to read The Moon-Maker (1916) by R.W. Wood and Arthur Train. Wood was one of the great colorful characters of American physics.

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