Anders Monsen

Lost worlds and ports of call

Month: October 2006

Hungary 50 years ago

With the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian uprising against Soviet rule, a review essay in the New York Times on three books detailing events in 1956. Of interest is the reation and inaction of the American government at the time, and the bungled CIA analysis. It’s amazing that spy agencies currently get $45 billion a year, and have learned nothing.

Sinclair Lewis

I’m currently re-reading a classic work of fiction, Sinclair Lewis’ 1935 novel, It Can’t Happen Here. Now possibly out of print (although the NAL edition from 2055 seems available at Amazon), the book deals with the rise of fascism in America in the 1930s, propelled by a populist senator who runs for president. The senator’s supporters include the fictional Bishop Prang, who holds forth from his own radio station preaching a raging form of national socialism no different from that found in Germany and Italy at the time. Yet along for the ride is the whole spectrum of the American public and every vocation in the land. Only a few stand against this tide of boorish, brutish, collectivist ideology.

My own copy I bought in 1986 at a used bookstore in Bergen, Norway, for the princely sum of 60 kroner. As I had no money at the time, those $10 meant a lot to me. Sadly, I remember little of the book, for as I read it now I am struck with the lucid prose and Cassandra-like warnings in the book. Lewis, from what I have read, seems both critical of capitalism and socialism (as they were seen back then), and became the first American to win the Nobel Prize in literature (1930).

Why do libertarians love science fiction?

An old post from Tyler Cowen about this strange link. The comments make for interesting reading. Join the debate..

Prometheus at the printer

It never fails. The newsletter is 99% done, and then I have to spend two weeks taking full care of a six-month old and four-year old as my spouse is off defending a client in a law-suit. I don’t think I ever appreciated the amount of work that single parents shoulder every day, especially when it comes to very small kids. Far from having any time to complete the newsletter, I ended up every day mentally and physically exhausted. But now, the issue has been delivered to the printer, and in a few days should be in the mail to members and subscribers.

I’ve already listed the contents in a previous entry, and I’ve started work on the January 2007 issue as well. I ordered three CDs from the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company, all Heinlein adaptations, to review as a package deal. I know there’ll be at least one more order soon, as I believe they’re adapting A.E. van Vogt’s “The Weapon Shops of Isher.” I’m also laying the groundwork for my strangest review yet, a 14-line sonnet on Sinclair Lewis’s novel, It Can’t Happen Here. I read the book once in 1986 (I believe the book is the first British edition from 1936, or it may be an imprint from that edition). The reason for this format, and the title of the sonnet, derive from my literary hero, John Keats, and a poem he wrote on re-reading King Lear. It’s vanity, I know, but I’ve had this idea in my mind for several years, and I finally dug up my copy of the book and started to read it and jot down notes. I haven’t written poetry in many years, so who knows how it turns out.

Other items scheduled for review include Justina Robson’s Mappa Mundi, and a few other books from my review copies shelf. I’m currently reading Brad Linaweaver’s political broadside, so again there will be some non-fiction reviews in the newsletter.

If you’re reading this and have any reviews of article you’d like to see in print, please send me an email at

Pamuk Wins Nobel in Literature

Orhan Pamuk, a Turkish writer who does not shy away from confronting the Turkish government, won the 2006 Nobel Prize in literature. Much has been made recently of non-Western writers daring to critique their own culture, such as Naguib Mafouz, Salman Rushdie, Parviz Parvizian, Elif Shafak, and many, many more. The pen is as feared as the sword, even relatively calm works are excoriated without being read, subjected to the “the tics and manias of obscurantism.”

The Probability Broach for free

The graphic novel, that is. In case you didn’t shell out cash for the excellent print version, as of Oct 4, Big Head Press is serializing L. Neil Smith’s novel (drawn by Scott Bieser) online for free.

Robert Anton Wilson Needs Our Help

Douglas Rushkoff posts distressing news about the great Robert Anton Wilson, author of many brilliant books including the Illuminatus! trilogy. I corresponded briefly with Wilson ten years ago and was impressed with his kindness, wit, and intelligence.

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