duminică, 13 septembrie 2015

DAS FÁBRICAS DE PALAVRAS DOS ESCRITORES ILETRADOSTheir lurid covers are now enhanced with sound, motion, texture and smell, but inside are still made up of cheap paper covered with seductive prose. The contents of these books, however, are all created by a few dozen machines called “wordmills” owned by the publishing houses of New Angeles, suppliers of English language literature to the entire solar system. To create a book, the “author” only has to choose from a government and publisher approved plot template, provide an opening word and push a button; the author’s main function is to provide a flamboyant , eccentric, or scandalous persona for public consumption, facilitating the marketing of the wordmill-generated novels. It's a typically Leiberian piece of apparent whimsy with some serious undertones. In a highly automated future all stories are written by 'wordmills', essentially advanced computers (as such things were conceived in the Fifties). The 'writers' of this society are really just glorified technicians who programme the wordmills. When the writers rebel and destroy the machines they believe they will return to a golden age of human-generated literature. Unfortunately, none of them can actually write...The Silver Eggheads Meet some of the insufferably zany characters that inhabit the mad, gay, heady world of the 'arts'... GASPARD DE LA NUIT - human journeyman writer. He has problems with an eager girlfriend, Heloise Ibsen (assigned to him by his publisher.) What he really loves is the robot that actually writes his novels, which he oils with devoted care. His closest friend is ZANE GORT - a fine, upstanding, self-employed robot writer, Zane writes books for other robots and is madly in love with MISS BLUSHES - a censor robot who is something of a prude and rather hysterical - very logical when you consider her circuits are wired for censorship, but it makes life difficult for Zane. He turns for help to NURSE BISHOP - a small but formidably beautiful human who plays nursemaid to a mysterious group of near-human entities who are owned by FLAXMAN AND CULLINGHAM - human publishers of low cunning and deplorable language. And there are many, many more..In this future, humanity's chief entertainment is a kind of pulp fiction churned out by computerized word mills. As part of a compromise with the writing unions, each word mill is run by a technician who is credited as coauthor - despite the fact that he or she does little to no work on the stories. In fact, the human author is mostly there to provide a photo on the back cover of each book. Fritz Leiber is known for his light and humorous approach, and it is well displayed here. The output of the writing machines is called word wooze and is often compared to opium, no doubt recalling Marx's famous quote, but also invoking the upcoming age of television. Most people read one book each night, often to help fall asleep and have difficulty relating the story line later on. Also, there is a joke that runs the length of the book that everyone thinks that they have what it takes to be a writer, but no one has had anything published since the word mills took over, because no publisher will take a chance on something that isn't computer perfect. Amateurs are still writing - badly - and the people called authors get it in their heads that they could write amazingly if they weren't spending all their time tending the writing computers - so they destroy all the word mills. It's hinted that all of society is going to crash because of this - since the public can't have their opiate - but the action of the story follows one "author" as he deals with his publisher. Leiber crams in a lot of details and small jokes. For instance, all the human "authors" have to follow union rules and affect strange authorly affectations of dress and speech, as well as adopt nom de plumes based on a mash-up of the names of historic writers, such as Heloise Ibsen. I'd recommend this to anyone who needs a quick read and is amused with jokes about the writing world. Leiber’s writers have such names as Conan Haggard de Camp and Agatha Ngaio Sayers, while the wordmills come in such models as the Putnam Plotter and Ballantine Bookbuilder. Here is a sample dialogue between our hero, Gaspard de la Nuit and his robot friend Zane Gort, the author of the popular Dr. Tungsten novels, marketed to his fellow robots on spools of tape. ”As was observed by your greatest human detective, who curiously had many robot traits,” [Zane] said without looking up from his book, “it is a capital mistake to theorize without sufficient data.” Gaspard frowned, “Greatest human detective?” “Sherlock Holmes, to be sure,” Zane said impatiently. “Never heard of him,” said Gaspard, “Was he a policeman, a private hand, or a professor of criminology? Or did he succeed Herbert Hoover as head of the F.B.I.?”







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