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The Moon is a Harsh Mistress 
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
How wonderful that anyone else here was exposed to Dealing: or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues by "Michael Douglas" (i.e., Crichton and his brother). I was about 15 when it showed up in my parents' library, I think as a book club selection - we already had The Andromeda Strain. I only learned a few years ago that Dealing became a movie, which I haven't seen - John Lithgow is in it.


Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:45 am
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
I don't know if it's "wonderful," JJ, but it remains one of the most colorful memories of books I read in that era. (Add in Divine Right's Trip and Steal This Book.)

The character that sticks in my mind is the speed freak who can't stop obsessing over his BMs. That should tell you something.

I was vaguely aware it had been filmed but - yep, just checked again - for some strange reason it's never been released on home video. Can't imagine why. It's Lithgow's debut film, too.


Mon Jun 22, 2009 8:51 am
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
State of Fear was putrid - I mean, a novel with footnotes every page proving the characters' right-wing arguments that global warming was a fallacy were correct? Puh-leeze. Goes right in there with Clancy's book about a PETA offshoot trying to kill half the human population (Rainbow Six, I believe). Strawman argument that big hasn't been seen since Christopher Lee set fire to Edward Woodward.

Prey was better, but not great. Nextwas not good writing. However, on balance I liked Timeline - poignant ending. But especially I liked Airframe, which for some reason gets no attention at all, maybe because it's fairly unassuming. Well-deserved jab at mainstream journalists.

Crichton was one of those guys who could write about something very new so well that his work became its own cliche. Kinda like someone thumbing through Shakespeare going, "Man, this hack sure does recycle a lot of familiar themes," only in Crichton's case it could happen within a year or two. Only a few years after Jurassic Park came out, everyone and his sabre-toothed dog was talking about reconstructing dinosaurs from DNA so much that it just became assumed in the popular culture that such a thing was not only possible, but undoubtedly underway somewhere. Having that kind of impact is ridiculously difficult but he made it look easy.


Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:36 pm
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
James Gifford wrote:
I don't know if it's "wonderful," JJ, but it remains one of the most colorful memories of books I read in that era. (Add in Divine Right's Trip and Steal This Book.)

Did you get a chance to see Abby's comedy act? That was in the mid-80's. He was pushing a new book and using comedy to take politics to a new audience. Best live comedy act I ever saw. (Now the Daily Show and Colbert made it a regular shtick.) He got involved in environmental reclaimation after that (Del-Aware, I think it was) and was really into the internet already, too. Another one lost to bad medicine. Such a shame.

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Tue Jun 23, 2009 4:26 am
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Abbie's one of my enduring heroes. An awful lot of people give me funny looks when I say that, but I've been in awe of this complex figure since I was a kid. Finally understanding that he was deeply bipolar explained a lot. When he was "up" he was practically a force of nature - and he blew around a lot of heavy stuff.

I was shattered to hear of his death - Abbie gave up!? - but again some clarity about the circumstances helped put it in perspective. I don't think it was bad medicine as much as racking chronic pain combined with a really deep down cycle. Perhaps very little anyone could have done about the combination.

Two of the most important maxims I absorbed from him:

"I can't think of anything sold on television that's good for people."

"The purpose of a talk show is not to present guests, exchange points of view, hold a rational debate, or any other ostensible function. The purpose of a talk show is to make the host look good."


Tue Jun 23, 2009 9:16 am
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
In the late '70s, during Hoffman's underground period, I lived in the Montrose district of Houston, then as now a haven for alternative lifestyles. Abbie was rumored at the time (later confirmed) to hide out occasionally in a house on Buell Street in Montrose. I never met him, but knew others who claimed to have.

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Tue Jun 23, 2009 10:44 am
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
James Gifford wrote:
Abbie's one of my enduring heroes.
[...] Finally understanding that he was deeply bipolar explained a lot. When he was "up" he was practically a force of nature - and he blew around a lot of heavy stuff.
I was shattered to hear of his death - Abbie gave up!? - but again some clarity about the circumstances helped put it in perspective. I don't think it was bad medicine as much as racking chronic pain combined with a really deep down cycle. Perhaps very little anyone could have done about the combination."

I knew him through the LP -- back when the national HQ was in Houston -- later, when we were both on the East Coast, we were in the middle of trying to get some cross-issue group cooperative action going when word came. I spoke to his wife shortly after his death; I had serious doubts about the story of his suicide, but she assured me that the newest antidepressant he was on was probably responsible. In the years following I saw other suicides linked to the same drug, so I finally gave up my suspicion that he had been silenced. (If I had been part of an black ops team he would have been on my list -- like you said, a powerful force of nature.)
I've also learned a lot more about bipolar and the bipolar/suicide link in the years since. Knowing why doesn't make it any less painful a loss, though.

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Tue Jun 23, 2009 11:17 am
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
James Gifford wrote:
...until his last six books. [...] Airframe was so-so.


I gotta disagree considerably here. I reread it to make sure. It's tight, bubbling with veracity, includes no speculative technology or science, lionizes engineers, and shreds gutter TV journalism - I enjoyed the denouement so much I read it four times. All this without even a sex scene or murder. I'm in no doubt that it's an excellent book. I'm merely wondering why it has not been made into a movie. Maybe the lack of a romantic subplot? But Crichton wasn't much for that to begin with.


Sun Jun 28, 2009 2:54 pm
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Happy Independence Day, everyone. Only 67 years to wait.

Free Luna,

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Fri Jul 03, 2009 9:51 pm
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Post Re: The Moon is a Harsh Mistress
Peter Scott wrote:
James Gifford wrote:
Airframe was so-so.


I gotta disagree considerably here.

I agree and retract. It's not his best, but it's much like MC at his prime rather than the pompous drivelator of later years. Almost Cussler-like in its initial setup of a mystery and then complex unraveling of it.

It was optioned immediately after JP, I believe - I recall reading a trade blurb to the effect of "What happens to your new novel when your last one was the basis for the biggest blockbuster in history? It's optioned on the presses, of course." I think it made it all the way to preproduction before mysteriously sinking in the Hollywood morass.

Apropos of that, I saw the Hollywood sign today for the first time in my life (that I recall; may have seen it as a little kid). That was at one end of a daylong drive; this is typed at the other end of it so eckskuze enny misstipings.

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In the end, I found Heinlein is finite. Thus, finite analysis is needed.


Sun Jul 05, 2009 6:53 pm
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