29 April 2007

God bless you, Mr. Trout

Kilgore Trout says in God bless you, Mr. Rosewater, "In time almost all men and women will become worthless as producers of goods, food, services, and more machines, as sources of practical ideas in the areas of economics, engineering, and probably medicine, too. So--if we can't find reasons and methods for treasuring human beings because they are human beings, then we might as well, as has so often been suggested, rub them out." The empahsis is Kilgore's, not mine. I can call a fictional character by his first name. And I'm particularly fond of Kilgore. He's a science fiction writer. He's not real, of course. He wrote a book (it was really Philip Jose Farmer) called Venus on the Half-shell that is a real book. You ask: why should I read this book? I answer: why not? You ask: are there other fish-named science fiction writers? I answer: indeed, Theodore Sturgeon. You should read Mr. Sturgeon. And I particularly like "Riders of the Purple Wage" by Mr. Farmer, anthologized in Harlan Ellison's well-known Dangerous Visions. Kilgore's quote made me think of that seductive and terrifying tale of a brave new world. At least Kilgore left us an instruction: ". . . find reasons and methods for treasuring human beings . . . " which ought to be clear enough.
God bless you, Mr. Vonnegut.

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