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Welcome to the Zarthani.net H. Beam Piper mailing list and discussion forum. Initiated in October 2008 (after the demise of the original PIPER-L mailing list), this tool for shared communication among Piper fans provides an e-mail list and a discussion forum with on-line archives.
 
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^     All messages            2102-2117 of 2117  2086-2101 >>
2117
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
07-07-2020
00:48 UT
~
Mike wrote:

> I think the phrase still works without explanation. Given
> Piper's lack of love for organized labor, I think he was
> more interested in the common usage than expecting
> that readers would need know the origins*.

[snip]

> I would say Piper's use of the phrase still works today,
> even if the reference to the ditty it came from isn't
> common knowledge.

Here, I think, is the nub. I agree readers may not need to understand the concept's origins but they ~do~ need to understand what it's saying "without explanation."

In my opinion--and we all know what those are like--the phrase "oomphel in the sky" no longer actually makes sense, even if contemporary readers may have heard the term "pie in the sky" from their grandparents or something.

That British sitcom Tim pointed to, about the semi-retired cop working at his wife's pie shop, is a good example. I doubt anyone watching episodes of that show today would be asking themselves, "Why does the wife seem to be taking a subtle jab at people of faith with the name of her shop?"

For most folks the "in the sky" part is just there to rhyme with "pie." They don't recognize that it's an allusion to "heaven" and a skeptical allusion at that--which is the point Gilbert is making when he "turns a phrase" and drops the "pie" (at which point the "in the sky" part no longer even rhymes).

It's nonsensical without the early mid-20th Century sensibility the reader must bring to the story to understand it.

> And as far as changing the original work; it's hard because
> the temptation to change sometimes goes too far.

Agreed, for editors, these are the differences between good editing and poor editing.

Cheers,

David
--
"I don't know what plans you have for a next story project, but the world-picture you've been building up in the Sword Worlds stories, or Space Viking stories, or whatever you designate the series, offers some lovely possibilities." -- John W. Campbell (to H. Beam Piper)
~
2116
pennausamikePerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2020
16:42 UT
Piperfan David wrote:
"I'm with you here but--tell the truth--how many times had you read "Oomphel" before you ~really~ understood that Gilbert dismissed the Kwann belief in "oomphel in the sky" in the same sort of way early American Marxists dismissed Christian religious faith?"

Umm, never? I think the phrase still works without explanation. Given Piper's lack of love for organized labor, I think he was more interested in the common usage than expecting that readers would need know the origins*. And I consider the sentiment rather universal among athiests. There is a line in Firefly where Captain Reynolds says putting your faith in God is waiting for a train that doesn't show up. I would say Piper's use of the phrase still works today, even if the reference to the ditty it came from isn't common knowledge. It never was for me until today.

Going back to Shakespeare, here's a phrase I think everyone still "gets" even without knowing what the literal meaning is:
"Hoist with his own petard" is a phrase from a speech in William Shakespeare's play Hamlet that has become proverbial. The phrase's meaning is literally that a bomb-maker is blown up ("hoist" off the ground) by his own bomb (a "petard" is a small explosive device), and indicates an ironic reversal, or poetic justice.

Once again, I never knew the literal bomb reference, only the, "done in by your own devices" meaning. On the one hand, I get your concept in not dating the phraseology. On the other hand, being dated is what makes some things interesting or nostalgic.

And as far as changing the original work; it's hard because the temptation to change sometimes goes too far. When Spielberg added a couple of cool scenes to "ET" (like the ocean liner in the desert) that he didn't have the budget for originally, it made the movie better in my eyes. George Lucas, on the other hand has messed with the original Star Wars so much over so many iterations, it waters down both the quality and nostalgia of the original.

*The phrase is originally from the song “The Preacher and the Slave” (1911) by Swedish-American labor activist and songwriter Joe Hill (1879–1915), which he wrote as a parody of the Salvation Army hymn “In the Sweet By-and-By” (published 1868). The song criticizes the Salvation Army for focusing on people’s salvation rather than on their material needs:

    You will eat, bye and bye,
    In that glorious land above the sky;
    Work and pray, live on hay,
    You’ll get pie in the sky when you die.

Both definitions from Wikipedia, because it easier to copy-and-paste than type for me. I never learned.
2115
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2020
15:30 UT
~
Mike "pennausamike" McGuirk wrote:

> My favorite adaptation of "Taming of the Shrew" is the
> "Moonlighting" episode.

I loved that show. Had a huge crush on Maddie, of course. Jumped the shark just seven episodes later though. . . .

> My original point on Piper stories is still that part of what
> they "are", and what speaks to me, are the influences and
> culture landmarks of the time that they were written.

I'm with you here but--tell the truth--how many times had you read "Oomphel" before you ~really~ understood that Gilbert dismissed the Kwann belief in "oomphel in the sky" in the same sort of way early American Marxists dismissed Christian religious faith?

> Changing a slide rule to a pocket computer doesn't mess
> with the essence of the stories as much as trying to adapt
> 1950's and '60's culture references to modern day relevance.

FWIW, I think a key aspect of what makes Scalzi's Fuzzy reboot so bad is his attempt to make it relevant to "contemporary sensibilities." When I have written fiction in Beam's universe I have tried, as much as possible while staying true to Beam's practice, to use "timeless" descriptions. When someone initiates the jump to hyperspace they "activate the control" rather than "turn the lever." It's a small change which lets someone who sees the control panel of a 1950s spacecraft in their mind and someone who imagines the virtual motion-sensing display of an early 21st century starship both understand what's happening.

> I get that others see or want different things from Piper's
> works; I'm just sharing my take.

I don't believe we're so far apart, Mike. I'm looking for a different title for "Oomphel" simply so that folks who weren't born during the Depression can still enjoy the story the way Beam intended without reading through pages of end notes or spending half-an-hour interrogating Alexa or Siri. . . .

Cheers,

David
--
"A girl can punch any kind of a button a man can, and a lot of them know what buttons to punch, and why." - Conn Maxwell (H. Beam Piper), ~Junkyard Planet~
~
2114
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2020
04:31 UT
~
Tim Tow wrote:

> When I was growing up, pie in the sky was a common
> expressions so I find Oomphel in the Sky to be an
> appropriate and understandable title without the need
> for a footnote.

I remember the term from my childhood too, but I never understood it to be part of a critique of Christianity (or religious faith generally)--which is essential to understanding the context in "Oomphel."

> Now I get the Star Trek comment about preferring
> Shakespeare in the original Klingon. :)

What I haven't been able to figure out is, which Klingon is supposed to be Simba and which is Scar? ;)

Cheers,

David
--
"Have you ever fought an idea, Picard? It has no weapons to destroy, no body to kill!" - Gowron, Klingon Chancellor (Ronald D. Moore), ~Star Trek: The Next Generation~, "Rightful Heir"
~
2113
Tim TowPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2020
04:11 UT

When I was growing up, pie in the sky was a common expressions so I find Oomphel in the Sky to be an appropriate and understandable title without the need for a footnote. As recently as 1997, there was a BBC TV series named Pie in the Sky. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pie_in_the_Sky_(TV_series).

>A lot of the clever word-play and dialog cadence requires the original writing to work.

Now I get the Star Trek comment about preferring Shakespeare in the original Klingon. :) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Klingon_Hamlet
2112
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2020
03:32 UT
~
James "jimmyjoejangles" Romanski wrote:

> Well, what I have really been thinking about is a Fuzzy movie.

Didn't they do that already? ~Revenge of the Jedi~ or something. . . .

https://comicbook.com/starwars/news/latest...s-tribute-revenege/

> It got me thinking about who had the chops and the
> gusto to take on the role of Holloway and I came up
> with Kevin Costner.

I don't know about "chops and gusto" but it's totally Sam Elliott. Or even better, before he died, Richard Farnsworth.

Cheers,

David
--
"He started for the kitchen to get a drink, and checked himself. Take a drink because you pity yourself, and then the drink pities you and has a drink, and then two good drinks get together and that calls for drinks all around." - Jack Holloway (H. Beam Piper), ~Little Fuzzy~
~
2111
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2020
02:40 UT
~
Mike "pennausamike" McGuirk wrote:

> If you're going to use footnotes, use them to explain the
> original reference.

A not unreasonable option, but you still have to get (new) people to read a yarn titled "Oomphel in the Sky" which likely makes no sense whatsoever before they ever get to your footnote. Other than a Shakespearean-annotated Terro-human Future History omnibus you'd need something with minor changes that weren't highlighted.

We have Beam's example of "Graveyard of Dreams" / ~Junkyard Planet~ but I've also been thinking of Anderson's Dominic Flandry yarn "A Handful of Stars," originally published in ~Amazing Stories~ in June 1959, then expanded and reissued in an Ace "double" as ~We Claim These Stars!~ and ultimately collected, apparently after further changes, as "Hunters of the Sky Cave."

Apparently, Anderson routinely revised his Technic Future History yarns to correct inconsistencies or to make them more seemingly relevant to the contemporary readers of the time.

Cheers,

David
--
"Great greasy comets! I might have been sitting in the Everest House with a bucket of champagne, lying to some beautiful wench about my exploits . . . but no, I had to come out here and do 'em!" - Dominic Flandry (Poul Anderson), ~A Message in Secret~
~
2110
jimmyjoejanglesPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2020
02:14 UT
Well, what I have really been thinking about is a Fuzzy movie. It got me thinking about who had the chops and the gusto to take on the role of Holloway and I came up with Kevin Costner. I recently read Dances With Wolves and he hit it dead on! I know David Brin wasn't happy with how The Postman turned out, but I was. Clint Eastwood handled Josey Wales wonderfully but he's too old now. What do you think?
2109
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2020
00:49 UT
~
James "jimmyjoejangles" Romanski wrote:

> The term meme comes from the 1976 book The Selfish
> Gene by Richard Dawkins.

Here are a couple of knuckleheads writing about "memes"--even citing Dawkins--in the same period when Mike and I first met in person (note the recommendation to view this page using something called "Netscape 2.0"):

http://www.selenasol.com/selena/personal/p...mplexity_threshold/

But it seems like, even in the absence of any "memes," the Marxist critique of Christianity invoked by Gilbert's reference to Kwann "pie in the sky" is largely lost on contemporary readers. It seems more likely simply to be overlooked or not understood than to yank them "out of the story" in the way an old-fashioned slide rule or everyone with a cigarette does.

If it can be so easily overlooked or not understood, how can it be particularly relevant to the storytelling?

Cheers,

David
--
"The Quintons had to leave France about the same time; they were what was known as collaborationists." - Paula Quinton (H. Beam Piper), ~Uller Uprising~
~
2108
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2020
00:29 UT
~
Tim Tow wrote:

> The references reflect Piper's personal view of organized
> labor and religion

Yes, and while Beam may been amenable to the Wobblies' view of the Salvation Army that doesn't mean he was particularly enamoured with the Wobblies' views generally! ;)

> so though the references are dated, they aren't necessarily
> out of date as the Salvation Army and the Wobblies are
> still in existence now.

Sure, but I doubt many folks today, even if they're familiar with the phrase "pie in the sky," recognize its origins as a Marxist critique of Christianity. . . .

> Perhaps both organizations saw a resurgence in Piper's
> timelines that led to these references being as relevant
> in the TFH.

A possibility, yes, but there don't seem to be any hooks to anything like this in "Oomphel." The references to the "left-wing neo-Marxist 'liberalism'" of the University of Adelaide would have been a handy place to drop a couple of pointers to some sort of "Wobbly revival" but it seems Beam didn't do so. (I suppose editorial constraints of the time would have prevented him from writing about anything explicitly critical of the Salvation Army--even if it were to occur half a millennium in the future!)

Cheers,

David
--
"The Federation Government owns a bigger interest in the Company than the public realizes, too. . . ." - Carlos von Schlichten (H. Beam Piper), ~Uller Uprising~
~
2107
pennausamikePerson was signed in when posted
07-06-2020
00:18 UT
Also from Wikipedia:
"Writing for The Washington Post in 2013, Dominic Basulto asserted that with the growth of the Internet and the practices of the marketing and advertising industries, memes have come to transmit fewer snippets of human culture that could survive for centuries as originally envisioned by Dawkins, and instead transmit banality at the expense of big ideas."
So I stand by my original point that memes are a fairly recent, social media driven, means of communication.

My favorite adaptation of "Taming of the Shrew" is the "Moonlighting" episode. I would agree there are numerous interesting adaptations of Shakespeare, but I still don't know of a modern "translation" that captures the original. A lot of the clever word-play and dialog cadence requires the original writing to work. My original point on Piper stories is still that part of what they "are", and what speaks to me, are the influences and culture landmarks of the time that they were written. Changing a slide rule to a pocket computer doesn't mess with the essence of the stories as much as trying to adapt 1950's and '60's culture references to modern day relevance. I get that others see or want different things from Piper's works; I'm just sharing my take.
2106
jimmyjoejanglesPerson was signed in when posted
07-05-2020
22:18 UT
The term meme comes from the 1976 book The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.
2105
pennausamikePerson was signed in when posted
07-05-2020
22:18 UT
If you're going to use footnotes, use them to explain the original reference.

Hummph-woosh.
2104
Tim TowPerson was signed in when posted
07-05-2020
22:18 UT

> I've never seen an update of Shakespeare that conveyed the essence of the original in an updated version,

I rather liked 10 Things I Hate About You, which is a retelling of the Taming of the Shrew.

Maybe one day they will make the Hamlet version starring Arnold Schwarzenegger that was teased in Last Action Hero. :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continu...e8&feature=emb_logo
2103
Tim TowPerson was signed in when posted
07-05-2020
18:43 UT
The references reflect Piper's personal view of organized labor and religion so though the references are dated, they aren't necessarily out of date as the Salvation Army and the Wobblies are still in existence now. Perhaps both organizations saw a resurgence in Piper's timelines that led to these references being as relevent in the TFH.
2102
David "PiperFan" JohnsonPerson was signed in when posted
07-05-2020
18:30 UT
~
Mike "pennausamike" McGuirk wrote:

> I'm not sure how far the original value of the story telling
> would have to be watered down or changed to make it
> connect with today's audience.

I agree that Abrams's ~Star Trek~ was no ~West Side Story~ or ~The Lion King~ but I'm not talking about a Piper "reboot" like Scalzi's ~Fuzzy Nation~. I'm talking about simple editorial changes along the lines of Poul Anderson's change of the title of ~Star Ways~ to ~The Peregrine~ when it was reissued a year after the premier of ~Star Wars~. Or perhaps the way that "the Brain" became "Merlin"--and Sylvie Jacquemont replaced Lynne Fawzi--when Beam expanded "Graveyard of Dreams" into a novel.

Would "Oomphel" ~actually~ be "watered down" if it was retitled something like "The Terran Spiritual and Magical Assistance Agency"--with a footnote explaining the change--and Gilbert's final comment instead read "When they die, they'll go to the Place of the Gone Ones, and have oomphel in paradise, and they will live forever in new bodies. . ."?

Speak on, Grandfather of Grandfathers!

David
--
"Let's see yours. Draw--soul! Inspection--soul!" - Foxx Travis (H. Beam Piper), "Oomphel in the Sky"
~
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