Date: 2017-04-09 02:10 pm (UTC)
davidgoldfarb: (Default)
From: [personal profile] davidgoldfarb
Science has Marched On at the Sternbach illustration also: we now think that the Milky Way is a barred spiral.

The Ringworld is just below 70 OPH in the lower right, isn't it?

Speaking of "How the Heroes Die"

Date: 2017-04-09 02:34 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I think this is the story that Joanna Russ was talking about in her essay "Alien Monsters" (found in the "Turning Points" a collection of essays about SF) (she doesn't name the story or the author in the essay):

"The story itself was a very clear, simple little story - very delicately and carefully told. It was about homosexuality on Mars. Why Mars I don't know, except that wherever you are as a reader, you're not there ... Anyway, the story was perfectly unsensational and even decent to the point of reticence. There wasn't even any sex in it. Instead ... one man killed another. It was really an all-right story, ... not in the least shocking... Then I came to the picture. It was a picture of the murderer - this guy who had killed the man who had made advances to him. Out of horror and disgust, you see. And the story make the point that such exaggerated horror was a product of unconscious, latent homosexuality. Well apparently the artist had taken alarm even at latent unconscious homosexuality and had decided that by God, he was going to show you that this character was no effeminate sissy - he was a _man_ - so what he did was put layer on layer of muscles on this character, and give him beetling eyebrows ... He would have made an adult male gorilla look fragile. ... I was reading my magazine ... and as I reached this picture, I think I made some sort of extraordinary noise .... which attracted the attention of a student ... 'Can I see?' 'Oh that's an _alien_' "
(deleted comment)

Re: Speaking of "How the Heroes Die"

Date: 2017-04-10 01:41 am (UTC)
alexxkay: (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexxkay
Apologies. I saw no "edit" option, so deleted, and am tryimg a less-naked version.


I see "beetling eyebrows", but certainly not "layer on layer of muscle". OTOH, my standards may have been warped by the existence of Rob Liefeld.

Re: Speaking of "How the Heroes Die"

Date: 2017-04-10 02:13 am (UTC)
ethelmay: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ethelmay
That just takes me to an image search on "how the heroes die," and I can't tell which of those images you might have meant, if any.

Re: Speaking of "How the Heroes Die"

Date: 2017-04-10 05:44 am (UTC)
alexxkay: (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexxkay
That is what I linked to, since I couldn't find any single image that definitively matched. I presume that if she had actually been talking about this story, she would have seen the Virgil Finlay illos in the link, and I was commenting upon those.

Re: Speaking of "How the Heroes Die"

Date: 2017-04-10 02:35 am (UTC)
julian: Picture of Julian Street. (Default)
From: [personal profile] julian
It's over to the right of 'link', up in where your username and subject line and so on are. Little faux pencil.

Re: Speaking of "How the Heroes Die"

Date: 2017-04-10 05:46 am (UTC)
alexxkay: (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexxkay
Ah, I see what happened. You can't edit a comment that has been replied to. Which does prevent certain forms of gaslighting, but can sometimes be inconvenient.

Re: Speaking of "How the Heroes Die"

Date: 2017-04-10 06:41 am (UTC)
julian: Picture of Julian Street. (Default)
From: [personal profile] julian
Ah! Yes. Forgot about that. (I do prefer it that way, given the sorts of people one can run into, but it is annoying at times.)

Re: Speaking of "How the Heroes Die"

Date: 2017-04-13 05:15 pm (UTC)
matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)
From: [personal profile] matgb
Yeah, for ages they refused an edit feature at all fearing abuse, persuading people to let some editing under limited circumstances was Work (this was in the pre-DW LJ days, it's unlikely to go further for the reasons you state)

Re: Speaking of "How the Heroes Die"

Date: 2017-04-10 12:14 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
But the story description is so dead-on that I'm willing to believe that Russ was just exaggerating her description of the illustration a tad (and unless she happened to keep the issue, she would have had to have been working from memory).

Re: Speaking of "How the Heroes Die"

Date: 2017-04-10 01:38 am (UTC)
alexxkay: (Default)
From: [personal profile] alexxkay
Fair enough.

Re: Speaking of "How the Heroes Die"

Date: 2017-04-10 07:46 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ba_munronoe
At the time this was written and for some time after, wasn't the notion that you could "turn gay" at times a _liberal_ preposition? You know, sexuality as something determined by personal choice, not something determined from birth by God or nature, something you couldn't change or rebel against. If one is OK with people being gay because they're genetically predisposed towards it, isn't that another sort of prejudice? Saying something is "against nature" is assuming that nature has our well being at heart rather than being a mindless machine that grinds us all slowly but very fine.

(OTOH, some people also took that "sexuality is a matter of choice" to mean "of course that 10 year old chooses to have sex with my 40 year old self", so I suppose the takeaway is mostly "there are horrible people in every generation". :( )

Re: Speaking of "How the Heroes Die"

Date: 2017-04-10 08:06 pm (UTC)
scott_sanford: (Default)
From: [personal profile] scott_sanford
I've got no idea what the American social assumptions about situational homosexuality were at the time (I'm not even sure we're allowed to talk about it now!) but people get so excited about anyone asking the questions that the answers are effectively invisible.

Date: 2017-04-09 04:50 pm (UTC)
ironyoxide: (Default)
From: [personal profile] ironyoxide
1.) [cover not to scale.]

2.) Is it just that Niven had a particular run of bad luck re "Time Marches On" in his early career, or was he more open about it than most writers working in hard SF at the time?

3.) The solution to "Setting that has run too long, and is now unworkable" is usually either "make a new setting" or "use time travel/AU shenanigans to reboot the setting". Niven seems to be either unwilling or unable to do this.

re point #2

Date: 2017-04-09 05:19 pm (UTC)
divisionsandprecisions: (Default)
From: [personal profile] divisionsandprecisions
Your second point suggests Niven is unremarkable in the stable of hard-SF writers of the time. It is also possible that he was more aggressive in grabbing new science and more creative in pushing ideas to more levels of implications (but getting many of them wrong). Anyone care to assess the status of hard SF in 1975? I found Niven's books endlessly fascinating as young reader, and I am not sure why.

(First comment after the Great LJ Out-Migration)

Date: 2017-04-10 02:33 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
In _N-Space_, a collection of misc. short stories and essays much like the one being reviewed here, Niven himself touches on this very subject.

The edition I have [Tor; 1990; ISBN 0-812-51001-1] has, on page 140, a brief essay + story design notes about a never-written *Tale of Known Space*, that would have been called "Down In Flames", and in which -- had it ever been written -- Niven would have (one hypothesizes, very entertainingly) destroyed the entirety of Known Space in one Giant Hyper-Dimensional, Reality-rending 'Protector' vs. True-Kzin (q.v.) War, thereby making it the very final *Tale of Known Space*.

In the essay prefacing the plot outline notes, Niven says that he came up with the intention to hyper-nuke Known Space, at the instigation of Norman Spinrad, on Jan. 14, 1968 -- which seems rather early on, all things considered, -- but there it is. As for the precision of the date, I infer that it must have been written on the original actual physical paper plot notes in some way, or else implied to Niven by some other date-clues recorded there (i.e., rather than recalled by him from memory).

It -- that essay and the story-outline notes -- were the very reason I bought the N-Space book (though, I can no longer recall where: probably in a bookstore somewhere in K/W, as IIRC that's where I was living at the time).

They were the reason, because never, ever before had I anywhere seen an author explain how and why a story came to be (or, didn't come to be), and more importantly, how that author went about (or would have gone about) scaffolding and then writing up the [or, a] story.

Prior to my reading "Down In Flames", to me SF&F stories were just mysterious Gifts from The Gods (i.e., their authors), -- miraculous entertainments appearing on bookstore shelves rather "inexplicably".

After reading "Down In Flames", I realized that writing was "just" a thing certain crafters do, like making a cabinet, or some pies, or a decent sweater. It kind of smacked me upside the head with a forty-pound frozen mackerel to realize it was a craft. That is, a thing even I could presumably do, if I set out to acquire the skills and master that craft. It is obviously hard work, being a professional author (as Charles Stross makes quite clear over at his blog, for example), but I had never before realized that it was _merely_ hard work.

Ever since then, that specific essay by Niven, which I guess in some indirect way means Larry Niven himself, has been at the back of my mind, nagging me to get off my @$$ and go and write (as Charles Stross puts it) "entertaining lies for money". I never have done so, but also that incessant, quiet, gentle, whispered nagging has never, ever stopped. It probably is the thing that drives me to places like MWDH, Autopope's demesne, and similar Oases out here in the sprawling, vile and desolate Wastelands of Cyberia.

So, I personally curse Mr. Niven for very different reasons than does, say, formerly frequent MWDH commenter Carlos Yu, whose occasional scathing take-downs of Mr. Niven were quite entertaining -- or than does our gracious host here at this just-now relocated forum, who has from time to time made rather pointed observations about Mr. Niven's, ah, sociological opinions.

In any event, Niven says that he very, very nearly went through with writing & submitting "Down In Flames" -- but then he came up with the idea for the Ringworld, and as "Ringworld", the story, was (in his mind) dependent on plot constraints set in Known Space, that was that. It was either: write "Down In Flames", or write "Ringworld" -- and, as we all know, "Rignworld" is where Niven went with it.


Date: 2017-04-10 07:34 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ba_munronoe
"True Kzin?" Weren't the opponents to the Protectors the Tnuctipun, which had survived their supposed extinction?

(You know, given a writer better than 2017 Niven, I wouldn't mind a space opera where the various races of known space have to deal with the invasion of the galaxy by the _cautious_ Tnuctipun, which put themselves in stasis in case something went wrong with their takedown of the slavers,and have only been recently been woken up by their machines).

Bruce Munro

Date: 2017-04-10 10:54 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] agharta75
The gimmick of "Down in Flames" was that the tnuctipun and the kzinti were the same aliens.

Date: 2017-04-10 08:26 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Here's a link to the "Down in Flames" story treatment, on Niven's approved fan-site

Date: 2017-04-09 05:50 pm (UTC)
nelc: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nelc
I don't know why you wouldn't ask Sternback if he could do a sufficiently hi-res scan to show his easter eggs, pretty please. Enough time has passed for nearly everyone to have given up searching by now, and there wasn't a prize or anything (not even a stuffed Kzin doll, let alone a working Quantum I hyperdrive).

Date: 2017-04-09 08:16 pm (UTC)
butsuri: (Default)
From: [personal profile] butsuri
There's a somewhat higher-resolution scan of the lower part (with the star/planet names) here, if that's any help.

[The link above seems to be forbidden now; not sure if something changed or if it was only working for me as a result of the way I got there + caching, but go to this page and scroll about ⅔ of the way down (or do a search for "Niven") to see it in situ. Thanks to scott_sanford & (Anonymous).]
Edited Date: 2017-04-12 11:08 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-10 08:11 pm (UTC)
scott_sanford: (Default)
From: [personal profile] scott_sanford
Butsuri's link gives me a 403 Forbidden error. I'm responding to Nelc so that Butsuri will still be able to edit that post.

Date: 2017-04-11 01:35 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Looks like the image can be seen here:

About 3/4 of the way down the page, in the "20 Light-Year Radius" section.

Date: 2017-04-12 01:49 am (UTC)
scott_sanford: (Default)
From: [personal profile] scott_sanford
Thank you! Also, oof, do not go to that page on a slow wifi connection. I may be here a while.

Cover puzzles, Yay!

Date: 2017-04-10 01:06 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I loved this as a teen, not least because it had my favorite cover of any SF collection, and probably any SF book, period.

I think Niven was at his best in 'cool science puzzle' short stories, with the characters just vehicles. Even after the science became outdated, they were still enjoyable as puzzles.

Unfortunately, there was more money in novels, and he started (trying) to add characterization, which was not a strength, to be charitable.


Date: 2017-04-10 02:33 am (UTC)
julian: Picture of Julian Street. (Default)
From: [personal profile] julian
I enjoyed reading this the first time, really. Think it's in my re-read queue soon, because I'd love to see what I think of it now.
Edited Date: 2017-04-10 02:34 am (UTC)

Date: 2017-04-10 04:20 am (UTC)
oh6: hi there! (wooba)
From: [personal profile] oh6
I completely missed the character motives in "How the Heroes Die" when I first read my already-disintegrating copy of the collection in high school. This is up there with "The Ethics of Madness" in my ranking of Niven's most depressing stories.

Date: 2017-04-11 02:59 am (UTC)
chrysostom: (Default)
From: [personal profile] chrysostom
I seem to recall Niven wasn't very happy with The Ethics of Madness, but I found it be rather memorable (and a striking title(.

Date: 2017-04-11 03:52 am (UTC)
nelc: (Default)
From: [personal profile] nelc
Agreed. I also liked one or two of the Gil the ARM stories; certainly "The Defenceless Dead", and maybe "Death by Ecstasy" — though it's been a while, and they may have been visited by the suck fairy. Also, "The Magic Goes Away". Hmm, some of his better stories have been downers; maybe it's the contrast with the optimism of his other stories?

Date: 2017-04-11 07:50 pm (UTC)
ironymaiden: (neutron star)
From: [personal profile] ironymaiden
Niven was my first real SF author, a childhood idol. it was crushing to meet him and find out that he didn't consider the omnipresent surveillance state a thought experiment, but an ideal we should be striving for. OH.


james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

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