Everything Is Nice

Beating the nice nice nice thing to death (with fluffy pillows)

‘No, No, Not Rogov!’ by Cordwainer Smith

with 6 comments

I’m not a fan of Smith – I never managed to finish The Rediscovery Of Man – and this story hasn’t changed my mind.

Unusually for Smith it is set on Earth. A couple of brilliant Russian scientists – Rogov and his wife – are trying to make some sort of psionics dealy for Stalin. I guess such things were all the rage back in 1959 when the story was published. Anyway, because they are so brilliant they accidently invent a time machine instead. Thanks to this we know that in the 136th Century Earth will be the galatic interpretive dance chapmion. Go us.

There is meant to be some emotional stuff as well but the characters are so lightly sketched, so stereotypically Russian that it is hard to care. So when the act of seeing the future causes Rogov to snuff it, we just shrug, despite his wife’s anguished but bizarrely belated cry of “no, no, not Rogov!”. A weak line to make the title but then the story is composed of nothing but weak lines.

Hardness: **
Quality: *

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Written by Martin

19 November 2010 at 14:18

6 Responses

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  1. LOL! Then why the hell did you bother? Admittedly, this isn’t my favorite Smith, either. But the bulk of his classic stories have dated much better than most of the stuff from that period.

    JeffV

    PS Jack Vance’s “Ode to a Carrot I Found in My Soup” written when he was in his teens hasn’t convinced me about his fiction yet either. The bastard!

    Jeff VanderMeer

    19 November 2010 at 19:53

  2. “I’m not a fan of Smith”

    !

    You, sir, have no soul.

    I agree with Jeff, in that it’s not my favourite Smith story, and a ways off his best. But I’m staggered you never finished “The Rediscovery of Man”, absolutely staggered. Me, I’d put that collection up there in a top ten list of short story collections – all kinds, that is, not just genre.

    Nick H.

    19 November 2010 at 20:05

  3. Then why the hell did you bother?

    Because David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer think it is one of the most important stories in the history of hard SF. But, yes, why bother? It is clear that H&C don’t have any idea what they mean when they say hard SF, nor do they display any sort of quality control in the stories they select. So, really, it just boils down to the fact that having read 723 pages of The Ascent Of Wonder, I feel duty bound to continue.

    Nick: Maybe I will get round to re-reading it one day.

    Martin

    19 November 2010 at 20:48

  4. Gods know the pleasures of self assigned duties, but don’t you think drudging your way through this stodge is a bit too masochistic to continue with?

    Martin Wisse

    21 November 2010 at 23:55

  5. [...] Jr. ‘In the Year 2889′ by Jules Verne ‘Surface Tension’ by James Blish  ‘No, No, Not Rogov!’ by Cordwainer Smith ‘In A Petri Dish Upstairs’ by George Turner ‘With The Night Mail’ by [...]

  6. Am continually drawn back to the inspired and haunting world that this man painted with his words and ideas, that strange fruit that Paul gave to us drawn from his extraordinary skill, experience and imagination. Truly remarkable.

    Ric Simmons

    30 May 2011 at 08:16


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