critical failure in criticism

From time to time, readers have observed that Rod Walker displays a complete lack of regard for criticisms or the opinion of others. He admits that is true, and is quite likely to completely disregard the opinion of a critic until he is given compelling reasons otherwise.

(It’s like the joke about the business professor – if he’s so smart, why isn’t he rich?)

That said, Rod Walker does sometimes have the amusing experience of encountering a critic who completely reinforces his prejudices against critics. This quote from a Castalia House post describing a particularly hapless critic named Harry Harrison is hilarious. Read the whole thing, but this is the funniest part:

Harrison attempted to write a book about sex in science fiction called Great Balls of Fire (1977). The book was wonderfully illustrated but the text is a hopeless mess. In a chapter entitled “Is Conan Dating Clark Kent?” Harrison makes a colossal blunder in this book by attributing this passage by Jan Strnad to Frederic Wertham, M.D.:

“Conan’s broadsword and double bladed battle-axe are standard phallic symbols; they are of course representative of Conan’s attempts at sublimation of his homosexual tendencies.”

Conan a homosexual? The logic is baffling. The popular stereotype of Conan, in fact, is of a muscular barbarian carrying off a nubile young woman. This is exaggerated over the reality, but in the stories Conan shows a regular and enthusiastic interest in women. Suggesting that he is homosexual is as dumb as suggesting that Marx was a secret capitalist or that Luther really supported the Pope.

Rod Walker’s book is smarter than that. (Admittedly, that’s not high praise, but still.) 

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