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April 06, 2002

Some of you may not

Some of you may not know Judith Merril. I barely did. One Wednesday I talked to her on the phone, and we made arrangements to meet that Saturday, so that I could give her a CD some curriculum I'd written on her short story ""That Only A Mother"". The CD included her story as well, perhaps it's last publication during her life. She passed away before we could meet. Judy, on reviewing the material I'd written on her work, ursula k. le guin and william gibson gave me what will probably be the best compliment I'll ever get as an educator. Her words, as I remember them were ""This is the first teaching guide I've on science fiction that doesn't suck."" She went on to say, about le guin, ""That woman's had her consciousness raised one level too high."" It is amazing to actually have two lines worth remembering from someone you never met, and only talked to on the phone twice. Check out what some other folks had to say about her... BTW, Barry Wellman is the electronic executor of her estate. Hello friends and lit-types, Hi there! Please join us to celebrate the launch of Better to Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril, by Judith Merril and Emily Pohl-Weary, at these free multimedia events: ∆ó Friday, April 19, 6 to 8 pm. (note the new starting time) Victory CafŠ©, 581 Markham St. (near Bloor), Toronto. ∆ó Saturday, May 4, 2:30 pm. The Merril Collection of Speculative Fiction and Fantasy, Toronto Public Library, Third Floor, 239 College St. (near Spadina), Toronto. ∆ó Tuesday, May 7, 7:30 pm. Vancouver Public Library, 350 West Georgia St., Vancouver ∆ó TBD very soon: upcoming launches in New York City, Madison (at WisCon: feminist science fiction conference), Montreal and Ottawa... Better to Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril by Judith Merril and Emily Pohl-Weary ""Judith Merrill was not only a vital member of the literary community, but a vital person, in the largest sense of that word. She lived her times and places thoroughly, and enriched us all."" --Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid√??s Tale and Blind Assassin ""I loved Judy....I didn't care a fig about her taste, but I loved her effect. She was an extraordinary catalyst, a perfect editor."" --Michael Moorcock, author of Gloriana and Mother London ""Merril's science fiction purposely eschewed the...escape for which science fiction is so notorious. Rather, here were a progression of sentences as clean and balanced as sentences could be and they were wielded together into deeply wise stories."" --Samuel Delany, author of Empire Star, Triton, and Babel-17 ""The strongest woman in a genre for the most part created by timid and weak men."" --J.G. Ballard, author of Crash and Empire of the Sun ""Without Judith Merril, neither science fiction nor Canadian science fiction nor Canadian literature nor the world at large would exist in their present form. Better to Have Loved is essential reading for anyone who's interested in How Science Fiction Got This Way. In turning a jumbled heap of bright shards into this amazing book, Emily Pohl-Weary has accomplished a task I secretly thought impossible."" --Spider Robinson, author of The Free Lunch. _______ What was it like for a gender-bender who made it in a man's world fifty years ago? Known as ""the little mother of science fiction,"" Judith Merril burst onto the New York literary scene in 1948 with a disturbing story about nuclear radiation. Learn how Merril and other early science fiction writers lived, argued, dated, mimeoed their manifestos, learned step by step how to write stories, and (in some cases) how to get paid for them. Better to Have Loved journeys amongst the people, places, and things Merril loved. Her life was a microcosm of alternative cultural and political movements. Born into early Zionist circles, she ventured as a teenager into the Trotskyism of the 1930s and '40s. From there she became involved with emergent science fiction, resistance to the war in Vietnam, the Free University movement, and tuning-in and turning-on. In 1968, Merril moved to Canada with the draft dodgers, to live and work in Rochdale, Toronto's student-run university. Judith Merril's contribution to science fiction was summed up by J. G. Ballard (author of Crash and Empire of the Sun) in 1992: ""Science fiction, I suspect, is now dead, and probably died about the time that Judy closed her anthology and left to found her memorial library to the genre in Toronto. I remember my last sight of her, surrounded by her friends and all the books she loved, shouting me down whenever I tried to argue with her, the strongest woman in a genre for the most part created by timid and weak men."" In September 1997, Judy passed away, leaving her granddaughter Emily Pohl-Weary with a partially-completed manuscript, twelve tapes of interviews they'd conducted during her last year, and complete instructions about everything she wanted included in her ""autobiography."" Over the past four years, Pohl-Weary has completed the monumental book. Pohl-Weary, a major figure in the indie culture world in her own right, co-edits Broken Pencil magazine and her own magazine, called Kiss Machine. Her writing has appeared in Shift, Lola, Taddle Creek, Fireweed, This, and Now magazines, and she's currently at work on her first novel, Sugar's Empty. Better to Have Loved will be launched with a slideshow chronicling the history of early science fiction and Merril's life, a screening of Merril's wacky mini-documentaries that ran on TVO after Doctor Who during the 1980s, and a display of 1950s science fiction magazines and book covers. Emily Pohl-Weary is available for interviews. Call Between the Lines at 416-535-9914. http://kissmachine.org/emily.htm http://www.btlbooks.com"

Posted by jason at April 6, 2002 10:10 AM