Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Unexpected Boost from The Operaphile

The esteemed and dedicated administrative assistant at McFarland & Company Lori Tedder has sent me another review of C.M. Kornbluth: The Life and Works of a Science Fiction Visionary -- one which appeared in an unusual venue.

The biography seems to have been featured at the beginning of the radio program "The Operaphile" at the end of January. What I received were some pages from a typescript. In handwriting on the first page appears the notation, "Aired 30 Jan 10 WFOS-FM."

Do opera fans respond to the fiction of Cyril Kornbluth? Apparently so. (And I suppose if I had gone on in the Classical music field, I would have found nothing too unusual about it -- being one who has attended operas.) The comments were quite favorable:

"How many of us who started with science fiction or, rather, 'sci-fi,' during the 1950s remember reading Kornbluth's short stories in almost every anthology that was released during that rich period? I'll be we all do. In fact, look through almost any anthology published today and you'll see one of his stories."

While that is not quite right-on, it constitutes some positive wishful thinking. The host or commentator of "The Operaphile" goes on, "True, a sizeable portion of Kornbluth's later work (he died in 1958 at the age of 35), like other postwar fiction writers, either focused on or was certainly influenced by two factors, the Red Scare and The Bomb. But, unlike less talented authors, even those stories and novels have much we can still enjoy.

"Mr. Rich's exhaustive work is not just the life of C.M. Kornbluth. It is also a biography of the science fiction movement that was largely started by Hugo Gernsback in the 1920s and '30s with pulp magazines like Amazing Stories. Science fiction stories and novels were certainly published before that but it was now given a new name and a devoted following of boith fans and writers that continues today. A highly recommendable book that is an excellent read."

The minor quibble is, of course, that Cyril actually died at age 34. But that is a fact I failed to snatch away from the back-cover copy when I had a chance -- so it is just about fixed in the pixels. And I suppose if he had passed his 34th birthday and was on his way to his 35th ... which date is more meaningful? I cannot say.

Cheers ...


  1. Being an operaphile that loves sci fi, I'm not surprised. Given the highly fantastical productions of some operas of late, it would seem that the genre is ripe for a new space opera or some such to get it into a more science-based story line.

  2. Of course this thought occurred just as I hit "post comment." Opera already demands that its audience suspends disbelief to an often huge degree (think large middle-aged person singing the part of an ingenue) so operaphiles may be primed to take the leap into the new worlds available in sci-fi.

  3. For more information on Hugo Gernsback check out a new biography available on Amazon.

    The document was found by me when we closed down Gernsback Publications in 2003. It was an old ms that I edited and produced as a book.

    Follow the link and you can go to the book and thanks to Amazon’s “look inside” feature, you can even get an idea of what it covers.
    Also at

    Hope you find it interesting.

    The book is also available as an E-book for the Kindle or your PC or Mac at Amazon. Here is the link:

    Other Hugo Gernsback Titles available at Amazon as e-books for Kindle or your PC:

    100 Radio Hookups E-book

    The Collected Works of Mohammed Ullyses Fips
    A collection of April Fools Articles by Hugo Gernsback

    1933 Official Auto Radio Service Manual

    Coming soon:

    Radio Service Man’s Handybook

    Radio-Cracy & Mini Radio Craft

    100 Radio Hookups

    French Humor & Tidbits

    For more information feel free to contact me, Larry Steckler, at

  4. I can see the similarities, Barbara ... and it makes me wonder if opera and science fiction might also be suffering from the same kinds of creative ailments ... ?

    Larry Steckler is hereby reprimanded for inserting an advertisement. I'm happy to hear of the work he has done but not happy to hear of it in the form of an advertisement. Poor behavior! If is insertion is automated, then I say Pah, Pooh, and Fleghh upon him and his digital minions. May he be haunted by radio transmissions from the ghost of Mr. Gernsbuckeroo himself.