Tuesday 1st of December 2020

of fiction, fantasies and reality....


In 1987, a Russian science fiction writer, Vladimir Glakov, visited the USA. He had been invited by a US friend, Professor Paul Brians of Washington State University, to present a paper, at the 1987 IAFA convention in Florida. This was the time of Perestroika — the political movement for reformation within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during the 1980s, and of glasnost (openness). 

Glakov published his “travel notes” in one of the Soviet Science Fiction magazine. These make fascinating reading especially these days when the possibility of nuclear war is again touted by idiots with gleaming brass on their shoulders.
Glakov had met Paul Brians at the 7th Congress of the International Physicians for the Prevention Nuclear War, in Moscow the year before. 

So this is where we’re at now:
News that the Trump administration’s nuclear policy review loosens constraints on the use of nuclear weapons to improve US military capabilities is a case of déjà vu. It’s back to the hottest moments of the cold war and a reinforcement of the first principle of American nuclear policy – first-use – a policy of questionable value and certain immorality. 

As Gen James Cartwright, former vice-chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, and Princeton University nuclear scholar Bruce Blair have pointed out, there is no situation where the US would benefit by initiating a nuclear war.

“Our non-nuclear strength, including economic and diplomatic power, our alliances, our conventional and cyber weaponry and our technological advantages” are unmatched, they say, and more than sufficient to assure our security. In addition, two-thirds of the American public oppose first-use. So what is behind this Trump initiative?

It is more likely than not the president’s troubled emotional need to maximize his “threat quotient”. The new nuclear policy review, the first in eight years, appears intended to do just that. 

Reports claim that it is designed to “send a clear deterrent message to Russians, the North Koreans and the Chinese”. This is one-size-fits-all nuclear thinking: “Fire and fury like the world has never seen.” It is another misguided and dangerous policy, as its critics have made clear. 

As Ellsberg, once a wunderkind denizen of the nether world (the Rand Corporation and the Pentagon) shows in detail, every president since Truman has promised to rain fire and fury on the adversary. He cites 25 instances when presidents furtively thought to issue nuclear ultimatums

Though I believe he was not published in America, Glakov was hosted in New York by a publisher of Soviet literature and Soviet science fiction, Stewart Richardson
Glakov was surprised by the strange US hunger for “fantasies”. There is a very big difference between fantasy and science fiction. Glakov made a distinction between the work of a Stephen King (who mixed fantasies and SiFi) and that of Ray Bradbury (full-on science fiction work such as Fahrenheit 451) for example. 
The convention was more about “fantasies” than "science fiction". IAFA stands for International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts… So what is the difference? Though both rely on strong and clever imagination, with fantasies  anything goes from ghosts to witches, as long as you can manage a broomstick, while with science fiction, there is a need for scientific possibility underlying the “fictional” work. The language and the psychology are thus very different. 
At this stage we also need to understand that though fantasy and religious hubris consumes many (possibly most) people in the USA, the “Deep State” that manipulates the Pentagon and its “intelligence” dependencies such as the CIA, do not indulge in “fantasies”, but in the clear intend to "dominate the world”. This might involve the development of scientific possibilities, dreamed up out of science fiction, including the shoe-phone.
The fact that an employee in Hawaii “pressed the wrong button” and released the “beware of an imminent missile attack” alarm is an indictment on a culture based on fear and "phantasms". It is possible that this "accidental pressing of the button" was premeditated...

“What makes me angry,” Tulsi Gabbard told CNN’s State of the Union, “is that yes this false alarm went out and we have to fix that in Hawaii but really we’ve got to get to the underlying issue here, of why are the people of Hawaii and the US facing a nuclear threat coming from North Korea?
“And what is this president doing, urgently, to eliminate that threat?”


Well to tell the truth, the President can do nothing else but to try to be civilised, which he is not... The destruction of North Korea, by conventional or nuclear method isn’t going to solve this “crisis”. But it’s convenient to blame the current President for a “crisis” that has been going on for more than 50 years… 
The last few paragraphs written by Glakov in his travel diary are telling:
“Actually, it is not contact with extraterrestrials that we need, but contact with our own kind separated from us by the ocean. People on both sides of the ocean are watching closely the development of these contacts, some with a sinking heart.
(here we need to remind ourselves that the Americans lied to Gorbachov when they made a pact not to interfere with the “former” eastern block countries.)
Certainly, a big delegation of, say, a hundred cultural workers, is capable of organising a lot of useful activities. But it seems to me that for an American it is sometimes more important to meet a Russian man-to-man. They don’t have to fall over one another expressing admiration and delight, they can simply try to understand, as far as it is possible, the heart of "a man” and not a “member of a delegation”.
Americans have a healthy respect for the words “human contact”, and I think that is what is most conducive to communication. Not the “monolithic group” when all members seem ready to “rebuff attack”, but just simple man-to-man contact, candid and “unarmed”.

But with the USA being in the grip of a Democrat manufactured anti-Russia sentiment to find a "reason" why Hillary Clinton lost the last Presidential elections, the delusions of fantasies rule more than ever in the US psyche.  The broomsticks are flying high, the angels of "good" and the demons of "evil" are in the streets everywhere, while most of the Yanks are armed to the teeth, ready to shoot shadows, ending up killing too many people on the planet and within the US itself.

When American embrace each others it seems it is to check the back pockets for weaponry. Having Oprah as President could change this dangerous idiotic deceitful culture?… I doubt it. Too much work.

well-arranged planets...

The only work by Vladimir Glakov I could find on the net was this German edition of Well-Arranged Planets — Fantastic Stories. Here the meaning of Fantastic is more inclined towards science fiction than with "fantasies"... Glakov's travel notes were published in Soviet Literature ISSN 0202 1870.

guns instead of butter...

Since my early teens, I, Gus Leonisky of Gustaphianaland, have written a few sci-fi novels — some in my own mind, some on hard copy… One for example, under the working title “Morpheus” — written on an Amstrad completed on a 386 computer that had memory problems — around 1985 (unpublished), is about an enforced cooperation between Russians and US in space (and other ways), through a third party that had accidentally punched through the barrier of another universe. 
The story goes that a top grade Russian cosmonaut has to go with a Russian delegation to a New York conference regarding the negotiations of the next instalment of the International Space Treaty. He gets weird feelings and dreams of deja-vu, as if he used to be an American astronaut in the past — and that he had died in painful circumstances. He gets confused by seeing a woman, the wife of the real astronaut who had died in a shuttle accident some years before, at the main conference. His memory is playing tricks as if his life had been erased and restructured with different circumstance (by a well-wishing alien whose intrusion into our universe could have created the shuttle accident). The novel thus is more about the memory of what we believe ourselves to be and about the continuum of this memory that false or true beliefs and dreams disrupt, than about the sci-fi technology which of course is quite advanced nonetheless. This is why I value the insight of someone like Vladimir Gakov. Here is more of his Travel Notes written some 30 years ago:


The thing most valued in the book market today is names as before. The names on the covers are larger than the titles and often printed in gold or in some special way so as to arrest attention. In Science fiction there are above all, the great threesome: Arthur Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Robert Hienlein. Ray Bradbury, too, but out of sheer force of habit because he has not produced any new books for a long time. There are a number of other authors who are less known in the USSR and some who are totally unknown. These are the late Frank Herbert and Philip Dick, and the hail and heart Robert Sliverberg, Larry Niven, Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffrey.

Stephen King is the indisputable leader among them. In many ways he reminds me of Yulian Semyonov. He has the same magical guarantee of success in the book market and the same inevitable triumphal breakthrough into films! King, who had been guest of honour at one of the IAFA’s conventions, knows his readers inside out and manipulates them at will.
Actually, he is not what we here are used to call a sci-fi writer. His writings are sooner a combination of science fiction and fantasy, psychological thriller with frank devilry, faddy theories of telepathy, clairvoyance and the like. It is precisely this hellish concoction that sells so well on the American market.
At the convention, sci-fi proper was hard-pressed by fairy-tale and mystical fantasy which is quite in keeping with the current situation in the country. In America today it is safer to stake on dragons, vampires, blood-thirsty Amazons and fairy-tale kings, in other words, on fantasy. It is a special variety of modern fantasy which deliberately leads people away from reality and its problems into a legendary past filled with knights, princesses and magicians, or to some unknown planet where again we have the same knights and princesses.
There are some real masters of the genre, like Stephen Donaldson, for instance, who also came to Florida. There are other really great examples — the trilogy by the English writer John Tolkien, or the novels by American authoress Ursula Le Guin. The majority, however are pure entertainment and nothing more, mere play at literature which, regrettably, finds a demand.
The other extreme —the “politicised” sci-fi — interested me in particular. During the convention I was sorry to see that my earlier diagnosis about American sci-fi growing increasingly rightwing had been correct. The countless atomic war survivalist series, the spirit of free enterprise in space, and the description of balcanised Europe that will emerge in the near future — all confirmed my diagnosis. 
I do not want to use epithet like “reactionary” or “anti-Soviet” (though there were such novels, too), I prefer to speak of a marked tendency towards conservative technocratism, a strange combination of words at first glance, but which explains everything.
It is a pity that this extreme trend sometimes finds support among truly talented writers. My old friend, Joe Halderman, was also at Fort Lauderdale. He was wounded in Vietnam and he is a pacifist. At the same time time he writes novels about universal catastrophes caused by Russian bacteriological weapons. It is true that he rails at Americans as well, but this balanced “plague on your two houses” is disturbing.
Joe was a friend as always and was deeply interested in everything that is going on in the USSR, but at the same time he made no attempt to conceal that to be tagged “a friend of the Soviets” was not the best kind of publicity right now. I told him that I had referred to him as a progressive writer in my articles. “Okay, I am a progressive writer compared to…” and he named a few truly odious authors.
More than once I have observed Americans trying not to be the enemies of the Soviet Unions, but God forbid they should be numbered among friends. Many were sincerely embarrassed at the situation: they admitted their commitment to the cause, whereas in the past the word “committed” was used to blame us. There are some who are balancing successfully by writing one novel “for” and one novel “against”.
In Florida I made the acquaintance of Brian Aldiss, the No. 1 British fantast, whose Helliconia Trilogy is a great hit in the USA. I couldn’t have a serious talk with him because he was is such high demand. You would not call him an apolitical writer, he is a well-educated  thinking man and a brilliant social satirist. I invited him to attend our section because there were certain motifs in his novel Helliconia Winter which were directly connected to our theme. He promised, but did not come. Well, he had come to Florida for a rest and to meet and talk with friends and not attend sittings.
But then, I talked about the Amerika serial all I wanted. (Gus note: see also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rr8ljRgcJNM) People are arguing about it to this day.  I found it very curious that the sharply negative reaction of Aldiss, a European, coincided with that of many American participants in the convention. They found the film simply dull. It is true, though, that the novelisation of Amerika by Brauna Pouns did not gather dust in the stores, but that is the usual thing with literary variants of a film hit.
I was lucky I read Pouns’s book before going to the States and managed to see the first few series over video in New York. So I was quite prepared for the discussion. It was a strange discussion: they tried to persuade me that Amerika was a liberal and cautious criticism of the present US administration and not a slander campaign against the Soviet Union!
In a sense, it really is a criticism of the Americans, of those whose policy is “guns instead of butter” but at the same time of the Philistines, the collaborationists and cowards who betray their country in order to survive “under the Russian Ivan”. Incidentally, “Ivan”, who is called Andrei Denisov, is far more intelligent and humane than his counterparts in films like The Red Dawn, the second part of Rambo or Rocky-IV.
I was quite thrilled to meet some instructors from the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs. The two men and woman in an unfamiliar dark-blue uniform immediately attracted my attention. Only when I read the programme that three people from the Academy were to speak on sci-fi (a very abstract and strictly literary theme) did I understand why they studied me with such interest during the presentation of the guests of honour.
Another item for reflection: it seems they study and teach sci-fi in the US Air Force Academy.
I spoke before a packed hall. I had every reason to be satisfied with myself because it was the first time I spoke English from the rostrum and everybody understood me, however, I could not count on sensational success, for two reason.
The first was the erroneous stereotype of Americans in the mass being concerned over over the possibility of nuclear war, which our press and television have build up. That was true some two or three years ago, today Americans are more frightened by AIDS. The anti-nuclear movement is active, yet it has been pushed into the background since the mass media, which has all “horrors and “delights” under control, has switched over to other burning topics. On the other hand, intellectuals and humanitarians are growing increasingly concerned over the problem. Among them are university professors, the tutors of the younger generation. It was worth speaking if only for them.
The second reason was that everyone was waiting for the “dessert” — the questions. So when the chairperson, Veronica Hollinger of Concordia University (Canada), proposed that the audience ask questions, several hands shot up simultaneously.
They wanted to know about Gorbachev, perestroika, Afghanistan, the emigration of the Jews, the new economy, the “renaissance” in literature and a lot more.
"Can a writer be sent to Goulag as before for writing anti-Utopia? Is Zamyatin’s We still taboo?”“No, indeed. Zamyatin and Huxley, and orwell have all been published or are scheduled to come out in the journals soon.”
Silence. They did not know about that.
“As a critic, on what point are you restricted today?”
“Only in time. I simply do not have the time to write all that I would like to write.”
And so it went on. Rather late we realise that the people crowding at the door were the participants of the following sectional sitting. There were in no hurry to oust us through, they also asked questions.
Gus: the rest you know...
And this is why the Harry Potter books (and movies) find an audience in search of pure escapism in fantasy. 

fantasies of the democrats...

By criminalizing alleged “contacts with the Kremlin” - and by demonizing Russia itself - today’s Democrats are becoming the party of the new and more perilous Cold War.

Stephen F. Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian Studies and Politics (at NYU and Princeton), and John Batchelor hold their (usually) weekly discussions of the new US-Russian Cold War. (Previous installments, now in their fourth year, are at TheNation.com.)

In light of recent events, from Washington to the false alerts in Hawaii and Japan, Cohen returns to a theme he has explored previously: the ways in which the still-unproven Russiagate allegations, promoted primarily by the Democratic Party, have become the number-one threat to American national security. Historical context is needed, which returns Cohen briefly to related subjects he has also previously discussed with Batchelor.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of what is usually said to have been the full onset of the long Cold War, in 1948. In fact, 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of US-Russian cold wars, which began with the Russian Civil War when, for the next 15 years, Washington refused to formally recognize the victorious Soviet government - surely a very cold relationship, though one without an arms race. The first of several détente policies - attempts to reduce the dangers inherent in cold war by introducing important elements of cooperation - was initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, when he formally extended diplomatic recognition to the Soviet Union, then ruled by Stalin. That is, FDR was the father of détente, a circumstance forgotten or disregarded by many Democrats, especially today.

Three major détentes were pursued later in the 20th century, all by Republican presidents: Eisenhower in the 1950s, Nixon in the 1970s, and by Reagan in the second half of the 1980s, which was so fulsome and successful that he and his Soviet counterpart, Mikhail Gorbachev, thought they had ended the Cold War altogether.

And yet today, post–Soviet Russia and the United States are in a new and even more dangerous Cold War, one provoked in no small measure by the Democratic Party, from President Clinton’s winner-take-all policies toward Russia in the 1990s to President Obama’s refusal to cooperate significantly with Moscow against international terrorism, particularly in Syria; the role of his administration in the illegal overthrow of Ukrainian President Yanukovych in 2014 (a coup by any other name); and the still-shadowy role of Obama’s intelligence chiefs, not only those at the FBI, in instigating Russiagate allegations against Donald Trump early in 2016.

(Obama’s so-called “reset” of Russia policy was a kind of pseudo-détente and doomed from the outset. It asked of Moscow, and got, far more than the Obama administration offered; was predicated on the assumption that Vladimir Putin, then prime minister, would not return to the presidency; and was terminated by Obama himself when he broke his promise to his reset partner, then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, by overthrowing Libyan leader Gaddafi.)

It should also be remembered that the current plan to “modernize” US nuclear weapons by making them smaller, more precise, and thus more “usable” was launched by the Obama administration.

Which brings Cohen to President Trump, who, whether Trump fully understood it or not, sought to be the fourth Republican president to initiate a policy of détente - or “cooperate with Russia” - in times of perilous Cold War. In the past, a “dovish” wing of the Democratic Party supported détente, but not this time. Russiagate allegations, still mostly a Democratic project, have been leveled by leading Democrats and their mainstream media against Trump every time he has tried to develop necessary cooperative agreements with President Putin, characterizing those initiatives as disloyal to America, even “treasonous.”

Still more, the same Democratic actors have increasingly suggested that normal “contacts” with Russia at various levels - a practice traditionally encouraged by pro-détente US leaders - are evidence of “collusion with the Kremlin.” (A particularly egregious example is General Michael Flynn’s “contacts” with a Russian ambassador on behalf of President-elect Trump, a long-standing tradition now being criminalized.) Still worse, criticism of US policy toward Russia since the 1990s, which Cohen and a few other Russia specialists have often expressed, is being equated with “colluding” with Putin’s views, as in the case of a few words by Carter Page - that is, also as disloyal.

Until recently, Democratic Russiagate allegations were motivated primarily by a need to explain away and take revenge for Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election. Now, however, they are being codified into a Democratic Party program for escalated and indefinite Cold War against Russia, presumably to be a major plank in the party’s appeal to voters in 2018 and 2020, as evidenced by two recent publications: a flagrantly cold-warfare article coauthored by former Vice President Joseph Biden, who is clearly already campaigning for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination, in the current issue of Foreign Affairs; and an even more expansive “report” produced by Democratic Senator Ben Cardin purporting to show that Putin is attacking not only America, as he purportedly did in 2016, but democracies everywhere in the world and that America must respond accordingly.

Both are recapitulations of primitive American (and Soviet) “propaganda” that characterized the onset of the early stage of the post-1948 Cold War: full of unbalanced prosecutorial narratives, selective and questionable “facts,” Manichean accounts of Moscow’s behavior, and laden with ideological, not analytical, declarations.

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alien on the record: "anything for cash, disgusting planet" ...

The iconic record sent into space with the Voyager probe to enlighten aliens about life on Earth is being exploited for profit, project contributor Janet Sternberg told RT.

Sternberg, who is a professor of media ecology, provided the Portuguese language greeting on the Golden Record, a 12-inch gold-plated disk included aboard the 1977 Voyager mission. The record, which was curated by legendary cosmologist Carl Sagan of Cornell University, contains sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth and is intended to familiarize extraterrestrials with life on our planet.

Now, 40 years on from the launch of the probe, Sternberg says the project’s pioneer is “probably rolling in his grave” over the forthcoming commercial release of the disk. Sternberg made the comments in an interview with RT.com after the 40th Anniversary Limited Edition of the Golden Record won best boxset at the Grammy Awards in Madison Square Garden, New York, Sunday night.


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a message from asimov...

Last night (3/9/2020) on SBS, the network showed a documentary on "Science Fiction" with Lucas and Cameron interviewing each others. They had a few passing references to "Forbidden Planet" — the most formidable science fiction film in Gus's eyes. The others films, stories series alla Star-Trek et al, are about blowing up something, invasions, colonialisations and more rubbery monsters than there are flimsy microbes found in a petri dish. The massive step taken by "Forbidden Planet" was to show that our demons came from within, from our blackened psychological subconscious mind. Our sleep-dreams are often destruction of realities into the opposites of what is... Asimov was more subtle than all Star Wars in his "Earth is Room Enough" short stories. The trick is not in the illusions, but in the psychology of the origins and in the management of the illusions... Here is a short message:






© 1955 by Fantasy House, Inc



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