Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In So Many Words

Science fiction … means what we point to when we say it.”
            —Damon Knight, In Search of Wonder: Essays on Modern Science Fiction (1956)

“Many years ago, the science-fiction critic Damon Knight, asked for a definition of SF, responded (I paraphrase): ‘You know what it is when you see it.’ This may be the best definition of film noir, too: You know what it is when you see it.”
            —John Grant, A Comprehensive Encyclopedia of Film Noir: The Essential Reference (2013)

“In his famous soliloquy, Hamlet ponders the existential question (I paraphrase): ‘So should I kill myself, or what?’ That, indeed, is the question.”
            —L.M. Parsifal, Hold the Line: Memoirs of a Suicide Hotline Volunteer (2001)

“The cornerstone of the vast edifice of imagination which constitutes Tolkien’s signal achievement is but a single simple sentence, the unassuming declaration upon which all the rest  is founded (I paraphrase): ‘Hobbits live in holes underground.’”
            —Bardine Skop, ed. Readings in Bucolic Fantasy (2012)

“Dickens famously described the atmosphere of the 1780s in A Tale of Two Cities (I paraphrase): ‘It was a time of contradictions.’ Not unlike the Clinton years, in fact: A time of contradictions.”
            —Gregory Fiddlewood, What the Meaning of ‘Is’ Is: Semantics in an Age of Irony (2005)

“Novelist Thomas Pynchon evoked the terrors of the Blitz in the famous opening line of his modernist classic Gravity’s Rainbow (I paraphrase): ‘Ugh, the sound of rockets is just the WORST.’”
            W. Owens-Jingo, World War II in Literature: An Overview (1997)

“George Orwell’s iconic opening to Nineteen Eighty Four sets the action on (I paraphrase) ‘a cold April day, at 1:00 PM sharp.’ A day and a time not unlike the day in 1953 when CIA director Allen Dulles signed the order authorizing the MKUltra program.”
            —Ben Sharples, American Svengali: A History of Government Mind Control (2001)

“Amidst the tide of cynicism that followed the Kennedy assassination, Star Trek retained the idealism of the decade’s first half, as summed up in in the promise of its opening narration (I paraphrase): ‘We will travel to places otherwise never visited, with no fear.’”
            —Abby Grieves, ed. After the Fall of Camelot: Studies in Popular Culture, 1964-1972 (1993)

“Every sport entails its own traditions, deeply ingrained in our cultural character. A trip to the ballyard, for instance, carries with it all the sights, sounds and smells of our national pastime; the ritual count of balls and strikes, the aroma of grilled hot dogs, and the rising of the assembly for the seventh-inning stretch, accompanied by the famous melodic exhortation (I paraphrase): ‘Are you ready for some baseball?!?’ Much the same could be said for football.”
            —Headley Leathers, Pigskin Nation (2011)

“The Borscht Belt comedian Henny Youngman was noted for his one-liners, such as (I paraphrase): ‘Let me make an example of my wife, if you know what I mean.’ Let me plead of the reader the same indulgence.”
            —Richard Tarbuckle, Mrs. Richard Tarbuckle: A Life (2005)