Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

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

Thursday, December 12, 2013

New Essay in Cascadia Subduction Zone

In October an essay of mine appeared that I have been meaning to call to readers' attentions. For me, the topic has importance.

It had disappointed me that after its publication C.M. Kornbluth failed to spur some feminist critic to begin the process of rescuing Cyril Kornbluth from the ill usage he has at times suffered from feminists. In the book I present ample evidence showing that Cyril exhibited a sexually egalitarian attitude; and I show how his writing suffered alterations that reflected poorly on him.

I also presented evidence showing where to place blame for these alterations. Frederik Pohl admitted to them, by and large. To my eyes the changes reflected so chauvinistic an attitude that as a critic I saw no alternative: my observations belonged in my book. I was writing cultural criticism, which combines biography, history and criticism; and to leave out my literary evaluations would have amounted to undermining my own structure.

Thanks to encouragement from Hal Davis to break my silence, and the agreeability of the Wiscon programming committee, I gave a talk in Madison in the spring offering my perspective. (And thanks to Mary Rickert, among others, for taking it in.) I had labored——even at the convention itself, banging away at an old manual typewriter——at shaping my talk to work as an oral presentation: so when Timmi Duchamp expressed interest in publishing it in Cascadia Subduction Zone, she presented me with many questions and suggestions. I ended up re-envisioning it, not just rewriting it, for publication, and truthfully made some important adjustments, and introduced as well one new discovery. As a consequence this published version overshadows the spoken one.

This essay discusses, among other matters, "visibly invisible collaboration," Judith Merril, Mary Byers-Kornbluth, George Barr McCutcheon, and structural feminism in Graustarkian novels. It describes some among Pohl's changes to Kornbluth texts, although without repeating analyses made in CMK, such as the examination of "Trouble in Time." It also discusses a situation that I had somewhat suspected before and confirmed after publication of my book——that the reputation of a novel I consider second-rate, The Space Merchants, rose as high as it did because readers thought it was the same book as the longer and quite Kornbluthian Gravy Planet. (As you might imagine, I deeply rue the fact that the Library of America republished, and in a sense canonized, The Space Merchants.) The new discovery I mention above, by the way, related to Joanna Russ and that worse-than-lackluster Pohl and Kornbluth production, Search the Sky.

My title: "Seeing C.M. Kornbluth as Gender-Egalitarian (For Those Who Have Seen Him as Anything But)." The magazine: The Cascadia Subduction Zone (, October 2013, 3:4. My thanks to Hal, Susan Groppi, Mary, Timmi, and Lew Gilchrist.

Cheers ...

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