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View Diary: Books So Bad They're Good: A Very Special Second Anniversary Diary (52 comments)

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  •  The series has been fun - thanks for doing it. (8+ / 0-)

    I was just looking through the one about deliberately bad books, and I remembered something Eric Frank Russell came up with in "Next of Kin", AKA "The Space Willies".

    While engaged in a campaign of brilliant psychological warfare against his alien captors, the hero (a space scout captured way behind enemy lines) crafted a mysterious 'transmitter' and engaged in a conversation with an imaginary ally. He'd crafted a tale of an immaterial psychic symbiote, and his alien captors had no way of proving or disproving its existence. Making sure the guards could overhear, he started a conversation in their language and then to panic them, shifted to Terran.

    The gag was that he was repeating (as fast as he could) a regulation he'd memorized because it was incredibly long, written in precise officialese, and almost completely impenetrable. (Spend months between the stars in a small spaceship all by yourself, and it's amazing what will become entertaining.)

    Having had to write SOPs at work, I can tell you 'official' writing can be beyond bad, mind-destroying works intended to nail down some aspect of the regulated part of the universe with such soul-destroying exactitude, that it explains why even demons fear bureaucrats.

    Both Russell's "Next of Kin" and "Wasp" are available in Kindle format. They're still well worth reading after all these years. Eric Frank Russell had a wicked sense of humor. He deserves to be remembered.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Feb 24, 2013 at 09:01:24 AM PST

    •  I remember one story Russell wrote... (9+ / 0-)

      Where a spaceship crew facing inspection finds that their equipment list includes an "offog," whatever the hell that is.  The captain goes to everyone on board and asks, and no one has the slightest clue.  

      So, being inventive and crafty men, they trick out a box with all kinds of bells and whistles and gewgaws, and when the inspector shows up, they claim that this is the offog and give him some song and dance about what it does.  The inspector nods, checks it off, and goes on his merry way.

      A few months later, to avoid the inconvenience of dealing with the offog situation during their next inspection, the captain includes a casual mention in his report back to base that the offog broke up under gravitation forces, and no longer exists.  Much to his surprise, he receives emergency orders to report back to base to go over the offog situation...

      ...because "offog" was a typo for "off. dog," meaning the ship's canine mascot.

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