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JMS Recommendations

Over the years, J. Michael Straczynski has recommended some novels that he thought people should read. Most of these were found by searching the archives of his posts to the moderated Bablyon 5 newsgroup but if you find one that we missed, please let us know.

NOTE: Books are listed alphabetically by author and then by publishing date from newest to oldest.

Authors: Bester · Carroll · Corwin · Ellison · Frank · Franken · Miller · Morrow · Twain
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The Demolished Man
Author: Alfred Bester -- Published: Jul 1996 -- Format: Paperback
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In 2301 A.D., guns are only museum pieces and benign telepaths sweep the minds of the populace to detect crimes before they happen. In 2301 A.D., homicide is virtually impossible -- but one man is about to change that.

In this classic science fiction novel, the first to win the prestigious Hugo Award, a psychopathic business magnate devises the ultimate scheme to eliminate the competition and destroy the order of his society. Hurtling from the orgies of a future aristocracy to a deep space game preserve, and across densely realized subcultures of psychic doctors, grifters, and police. The Demolished Man is a masterpiece of high-tech suspense, set in a world in which everything has changed except for the ancient instinct for murder.

JMS AT COMPUSERVE SAID:
NOV.13.1996
Telepathy is not a deus ex machina device in the show -- it's been there since the pilot -- nor in SF as a genre. Telepathy has a long and respected history in the SF genre, with "The Demolished Man" considered one of the greatest landmarks of the field.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
SEP.5.1994
The direction and intent and background of the Psi Corps is *very* different from Bester's "The Demolished Man." What may cause some of the confusion is that when I decided to name the Psi Cop we'll be seeing, knowing of Alfie's work in the genre in general, and knowing that he was a close friend of Harlan's, I decided it would be a nice testimony to the man to name the Psi Cop Bester. There's nothing beyond that.

FEB.21.1994
[T]elepathy has been dealt with considerably throughout the long history of SF. One of the finest novels in the genre is Alfred Bester's "The Demolished Man."

OCT.12.1993
Telepathy has had a long and distinguished history as a subject of *quality* SF, right up to and including Alfred Bester's "The Demolished Man," arguably the best book ever written on the subject.

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Bones of the Moon
Author: Jonathan Carroll -- Published: May 2002 -- Format: Paperback
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The comfortable daytime world of Cullen James gives way at night to a fantastic dream landscape in which a talking dog and a child named Pepsi lead her on a search for five magical bones. In spare but striking prose, the author of Voice of Our Shadow constructs a powerful story that traverses the two-way street between dreams and reality.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
MAY.25.1997
Yes, Jonathan Carroll, who does dark contemporary fantasy, is someone I'd definitely recommend.

SEP.2.1996
Morgan: in hearing the sorts of books you like, I have two words for you:Jonathan Carroll. Try his "Bones of the Moon," or if you can find it, "The Land of Laughs."

MAR.9.1995
I'd definitely recommend
Neil Gaiman, one of the best writers out there right now in any area. Terry Pratchett. And Jonathan Carroll, without question. He doesn't have quite the cachet of a Stephen King or a Jorge Luis Borges, but believe me, they'll be looking back at this guy for years to come, he's *that* good.

MAY.25.1994
Probably the only author I make it a point to seek out as soon as a new title hits the stands is Jonathan Carroll, who if you don't know his work I commend to you *highly*. He's a contemporary dark fantasist, and nothing short of absolutely *brilliant*. His first book, "The Land of Laughs," which may be found at some libraries, still puts me away.

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The Land of Laughs
Author: Jonathan Carroll -- Published: Feb 2001 -- Format: Paperback
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For schoolteacher Thomas Abbey there was no writer to equal Marshall France, a legendary author of children's books who hid himself away in the small town of Galen and died of a heart attack at the age of forty-four. Tom and his girlfriend Saxony, wanting to write France's biography, arrive in Galen, where they discover the writer's fiercely protective daughter Anna is waiting for them. Before long, they realise that this idyllic little town and its inhabitants - both human and animal - are not quite what they seem: France's magic has spread beyond the printed page ...

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
AUG.30.1999
Is Galen named after the town in Jonathan Carrolls "Land of Laughter"?

No. He's named after a certain ancient physician.

SEP.2.1996
Morgan: in hearing the sorts of books you like, I have two words for you:Jonathan Carroll. Try his "Bones of the Moon," or if you can find it, "The Land of Laughs."

JAN.24.1995
I'd certainly recommend the works of Jonathan Carroll, particularly THE LAND OF LAUGHS if you can find it, or any of his later novels (VOICE OF OUR SHADOWS is also quite nice). He's a contemporary-dark-fantasy writer who is *breathtakingly* good.

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Voice of Our Shadow
Author: Jonathan Carroll -- Published: Nov 1984 -- Format: Paperback
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Outwardly Joseph Lennox is an ordinary young man, raised in a New York suburb and striving to make his way as a writer. Yet for him Vienna is not just one of the lures of Europe but a refuge in time and place, a refuge from a tragedy in his boyhood in which he played a for more complicit role than anyone realized. Joe's overbearing older brother, Ross, taunted him as they played near a railroad and touched the third rail, dying instantly. But he lives on in Joe's lonely guilt and dreams.

Now, in Vienna, Joe finds friendship with the strangely manic Paul and India Tate, and their destinies soon become erotically--and ominously--intertwined. Once again Joe is haunted by the specter of betrayal and death. In the end he must face the horrifying realization of how fragile is the barrier that separates the demons of our own conjuring from the inescapable reality of the unseen.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
JAN.24.1995
I'd certainly recommend the works of Jonathan Carroll, particularly THE LAND OF LAUGHS if you can find it, or any of his later novels (VOICE OF OUR SHADOWS is also quite nice). He's a contemporary-dark-fantasy writer who is *breathtakingly* good.

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On a Note of Triumph
Author: Norman Corwin -- Published: Jan 2000 -- Media Type: Performance -- Length: 60 minutes -- Format: Audible Speech
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On V-E Day, May 8, 1945, this acclaimed special broadcast thrilled millions, and retains all its power today. Here is Corwin's original masterpiece, arguably the finest use of the medium ever achieved. As the program reviews the causes and lessons learned from the war, it also turns its view forward to the peace to come and the civil thinking required of every man to prevent the world from returning to the problems that caused the war. Carl Sandburg called this radio drama a vast announcement, a terrific interrogatory, one of the all-time great American poems. More than a historical tour-de-force, an inspiration for everyone, with a magnificent original score by Bernard Herrmann.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
MAR.29.2001
Most of Norman's books are out of print at this point in time, though some can be found on Ebay.

My best recommendation to you is to go to the following site:

http://www.lodestone-media.com/corwin.html

This site has some of his most seminal work in radio drama available for sale, ranging from very early to very recent; you can also purchase his scripts to some of these productions.

Understand that Norman is a writer's writer. He has a mastery of language and image and dialogue that is utterly beyond anything I could ever hope to achieve. This is a man who has been a primal source of inspiration for people like Edward R. Murrow, Walter Cronkite, Ray Bradbury, Charles Kuralt, Carl Reiner, Rod Serling and hundreds of others.

I would particularly recommend to you "13 by Corwin" and "On a Note of Triumph."

He is a poet, a statesman, an asker of questionsk, a modern Jeremiah...trust me on this one: without exaggeration, he's one of the best writers of the 20th (and still going in the 21st) century.

JUN.1.1998
[Corwin's] radio dramas run the gamut from important historical documents ("On a Note of Triumph" was commissioned to be broadcast on VE day by all three networks), to light fantasy/sf (from "The Reluctant Molecule" with none other than Groucho Marx and Vincent Price, to "The Curse of 589" starring William Shatner and Carl Reiner), to the biography of Miguel de Cervantes ("The Writer with the Lame Left Hand"), and his watershed collection, "Thirteen by Corwin."

Norman is a *writer's writer*. He's the sort we all point to and say, "That's what I'd like to be able to do someday."

I don't generally put up something that is as blatantly an advertisement as this. But in this particular case, it's worth the attention of any B5 fan, as the core of the fire that set me in motion, inspires and informs much of the ethical content of Babylon 5. He is not only my friend, he has been my mentor and my benchmark for nearly twenty years.

If you're not sure what to get when you get to lodestone, I suggest the Charles Kuralt bio (featuring interviews with Terkel, Bradbury, Altman, Lear and Corwin) about "On a Note of Triumph," the actual broadcast of "Note" itself so you can hear the whole thing straight through, and "Thirteen by Corwin." (John Copeland's personal favorite is "Fifty years after 14 August" commemmorating VJ day.)

If you want only to go for the more modern stuff, then I'd suggest "We Hold These Truths," "The Writer with the Lame Left Hand," and for something truly unique, "No Love Lost," about a fictional meeting between Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

Trust me on this one.

JMS AT AOL SAID:
FEB.20.1996
I'd suggest to start with ON A NOTE OF TRIUMPH, and THE PLOT TO OVERTHROW CHRISTMAS.

JMS AT GENIE SAID:
JUN.15.1994
He wrote comedies and dramas and jerimiads; when the UN needed a cantata to symbolize their goals, they came to Norman; when the Germans surrendered on VE day, our nation turned to Norman to write a piece that was the ONLY radio broadcast/drama aired on all three radio networks, "On a Note of Triumph." He worked with the greatest stars of our country...Humphrey Bogart, Clark Gable, and a list of our greatest film and radio stars.

If you don't know the work of Norman Corwin, go to your nearest local library and look for his books, if they still have them. Look for any recordings of his radio dramas, particularly "On a Note of Triumph," which is probably in the hands of university libraries.

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Thirteen by Corwin
Author: Norman Corwin -- Published: Oct 1995 -- Media Type: Performance -- Length: 420 minutes -- Format: Audible Speech
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Seven full hours on six cassettes -- Norman Corwin's personal favorites from the extant recordings of his works from the Golden Age of Radio in the 1940s. This is truly one of the great classic collections of OTR (Old-Time Radio)! A galaxy of stars includes Groucho Marx, Frederic March, Elsa Lanchester, Robert Benchley, Vincent Price, Henry Morgan and many more, in pieces that range from satirical comedy through whimsical fantasy, travelogue, and romance, to Corwin's amazingly powerful, inspiring drama. Several programs deal with aspects of the World War II.

The list of programs includes: The Undecided Molecule, The Odyssey of Runyon Jones, Untitled (content is about WWII), Descent of the Gods, They Fly Through The Air, The Long Name None Could Spell, My Client Curley, Mary and the Fairy, Could Be, New York: A Tapestry, Cromer, El Capitan and the Corporal, and Radio Primer.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
MAR.29.2001
I would particularly recommend to you "13 by Corwin" and "On a Note of Triumph."

APR.3.1996
Our NPR station in Chicago is planning on broadcasting "13 by Corwin, a star-studded anthology of Norman Corwin's greatest radio plays." Any recommendations on particulars to watch for?

Just sit back and enjoy a use of language like nothing you've ever heard before. You're in for a real treat.

JUN.1.1998
[Corwin's] radio dramas run the gamut from important historical documents ("On a Note of Triumph" was commissioned to be broadcast on VE day by all three networks), to light fantasy/sf (from "The Reluctant Molecule" with none other than Groucho Marx and Vincent Price, to "The Curse of 589" starring William Shatner and Carl Reiner), to the biography of Miguel de Cervantes ("The Writer with the Lame Left Hand"), and his watershed collection, "Thirteen by Corwin."

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Norman Corwin's Letters
Author: Norman Corwin -- Published: Sep 1994 -- Format: Hardcover
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"He writes as if he were several men, but there is only one of him," Clifton Fadiman said of Norman Corwin. From this warm, personal collection of letters spanning more than sixty years, the reader discovers Corwin's versatility and humanity -- as a writer of poems, plays, books, essays, scripts for radio, stage, television, and movies; director, producer, composer, librettist;father, son, husband, brother, friend; reporter, teacher, lecturer; and author-producer-director of huge documentaries like We Hold These Truths.

Many observers, including Robert Sherwood and Ray Bradbury, have declared Corwin the world's formost writer in the Golden Age of Radio, where he rose to the pinnacle as he "survived ten years in radio without ever having or needing a sponsor."

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
JAN.24.1995
Most of the reading I do now is nonfiction, just to give the brain a break from storytelling. I *strongly* commend THE LETTERS OF NORMAN CORWIN to anyone out there.

OCT.28.1995
He has been a friend and a mentor for over 15 years, and I've learned much from him about what it is to be a writer, and a human being.

I'm serious. Go to your local library and look up his work. Or to your local bookstore and track down a copy of his latest book, a collection of his letters (cunningly entitled Norman Corwin's Letters), published in hardcover by Barricade Books, containing his correspondence to friends, family, and such notable long-term friends as Ray Bradbury, William Shatner, Rod Serling, Robert Altman, Ken Burns, Philip Dunne, Charles Kuralt, Walter Cronkite, Burgess Meredith, Philip Roth, Gregory Peck, Eric Sevareid, Bill Moyers, Erik Barnouw, Groucho Marx, Carl Sandburg, Leonard Bernstein, Bette Davis, Edward R. Murrow...well, you get the idea.

JMS AT GENIE SAID:
SEP.1.1994
Some have commented on the style of writing in Babylon 5, and in some of my previous work. While much can be laid at the feet of Harlan Ellison, much of my influence can also be traced to Norman Corwin, who taught me not just how to write, but what it meant to BE a writer. I cannot commend his work to you highly enough. If you have a love of language, of a story well told, of fiction with a conscience and a point of view, then Norman's your man. Some of you may remember "A Prayer for the 70s," written by Norman, which I posted a while back. A work of absolute genius, in a career peppered with awards, and recognition by the U.N. and others.

Many of you have asked for more information about Norman's work. To that end I offer the following information:

Norman has a new book out, that is just hitting the stands. It is entitled NORMAN CORWIN'S LETTERS, edited by A. J. Langguth. It's in hardcover from Barricade Books, ISBN #0-9623032-5-9. It is an amazing volume, full of inspiration and humor and the occasional thunder-and-lightning.

You will find letters to and from such notables -- friends of Norman's -- as Carl Sandburg, Ray Bradbury, Bette Davis, Stanley Kramer, Groucho Marx, Greer Garson, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, Edward R. Murrow, Anthony Quinn, Rod Serling, Leonard Bernstein, Erik Barnouw, Archibald MacLeish, Stan Freberg, Walter Cronkite, Norman Cousins, Studs Terkel, Eric Sevareid, Philip Dunne, Bill Moyers, Gregory Peck...the list goes on and on.

The letters are documents of a life, funny and outraged and thoughtful...and beautifully written beyond my capacity to describe it to you. If you are a writer, or interested in writing, I can commend no book to you higher than this one.

If as a Babylon 5 viewer you'd like to get a better grasp of what inspired me to pursue my career, and has helped make that dream a reality...I recommend to you the works of Norman Corwin, starting with this book.

If you need any further encouragement to go out *today* and get a copy of this book, then let me simply suggest that you call up a copy of Who's Who, and look up who Norman Corwin is. I don't think you'll need additional encouragement thereafter.

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Shatterday
Author: Harlan Ellison -- Published: Nov 1980 -- Format: Hardcover
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A collection of stories by Harlan Ellison. They include: Count the Clock That Tells the Time. How's the Night Life on Cissalda, Flop Sweat, Would You Do It for a Penny?, The Man Who was Heavily into Revenge, Shoppe Keeper, Jeffty is Five, Django, Shatterday, In the Fourth Year of the War, Alive and Well and on a Friendless Voyage, All the Birds Come Home to Roost, Opium, The Other Eye of Polyphemus, The Executioner of Malformed Children, and All the Lies That Are My Life.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
OCT.12.1998
I'd suggest Shatterday as a good place to begin with Harlan.

JMS AT COMPUSERVE SAID:
JUN.18.1998
Which of his books would you recommend I start out with?

I'd try Shatterday, or Strange Wine.

MAY.2.1997
Just about ANY of Harlan's books are worth reading, though Strange Wine and Shatterday (available at most SF stores) are personal favorites, and his latest Edgeworks volume just came out.

MAR.22.1996
I think you'll like all of Harlan's work, though for a newcomer to his work I'd probably recommend Deathbird Stories or Shatterday for the more recent material.

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Alas, Babylon
Author: Pat Frank -- Published: Apr 1999 -- Format: Paperback
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The classic apocalyptic novel that stunned the nation with its vivid portrayal of a small town's survival after nuclear holocaust devastates the country.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
FEB.13.1997
One of my favorite books is "Alas, Babylon," by Pat Frank, which is about a nuclear war (written in the early 60s). But the war happens entirely off-stage, way in the distance...and the book focuses on one small township dealing with the after effects, and the day-to-day realities of surviving in a changed world. I've always been partial to that kind of storytelling.

JMS AT GENIE SAID:
SEP.14.1996
Actually, "Alas, Babylon" is a terrific book by Pat Frank, which came out in the late 60s, which I recommend to anyone. Great reading. Since first reading it as a kid, I must've reread it a dozen or more times over the years until the darned thing fell apart.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
MAY.25.1994
I reread Pat Frank's "Alas Babylon" every couple of years just to savor it; same with Lord of the Rings.

DEC.26.1993
There has not been a book published with that name [Babylon 5], insofar as we have ever been able to tell. It's most likely that what your friend is thinking of is a book entitled "Alas, Babylon," by Pat Frank, which is a very fine novel indeed, and was written in about the period you mention.

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Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them
Author: Al Franken -- Published: Aug 2003 -- Format: Hardcover
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Having previously dissected the factual inaccuracies of a single bellicose talk show host in Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot, Al Franken takes his fight to a larger foe: President George W. Bush, the Bush Administration, Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, and scores of other conservatives whom, he says, are playing loose with the facts. It's a lot of ground to cover, as evidenced by the 43 chapters in Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them, but the results are often entertaining and insightful. Franken occupies a unique place in the modern political dialogue as perhaps the media's only comedy writer and performer who is also a Harvard fellow as well as a liberal political commentator.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
SEP.6.2003
The reaction you cite is all too common, unfortunately. And they can't refute the facts, they just label him an asshole and dismiss him out of hand, which makes it easier than considering another point of view.

SEP.3.2003
I just want to drop into this discussion about Fox a hearty plug for Al Franken's new book, Lies and the Lying Liares Who Tell Them. The book is relentlessly researched, and is a massive indictment of some of the falsehoods that have been perpetrated by those with a vested interest in doing so. The section on Fox News is worth the price of admission all by itself.

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A Canticle for Leibowitz
Author: Walter Miller -- Published: Oct 1997 -- Format: Paperback
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In celebration of the publication of the sequel Saint Leibowitz and the Wild Horse Woman comes this special edition of the classic A Canticle for Leibowitz, a novel that transcends genre to stand as one of the most significant literary works of our time.

In the Utah desert, Brother Francis of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz has made a miraculous discovery: the relics of the martyr Isaac Leibowitz himself, including the blessed blueprint and the sacred shopping list. They may provide a bright ray of hope in a terrifying age of darkness, a time of ignorance and genetic monsters that are the unholy aftermath of the Flame Deluge. But as the spellbinding mystery at the core of this extraordinary novel unfolds, it is the search itself--for meaning, for truth, for love--that offers hope to a humanity teetering on the edge of an abyss.

JMS AT COMPUSERVE SAID:
JAN.22.1997
I would *love* to do a film or miniseries version of "Canticle." I *love* that book.

JMS AT AOL SAID:
APR.26.1996
I love "A Canticle for Liebowitz," which compresses an amazing timeline into one volume.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
MAY.24.1994
"A Canticle for Liebowitz" is one of the *classics* of science fiction. But 99% of it takes place after a nuclear war, and there's NO hardware, no aliens, no space travel, no nothing. Ditto for "Alas, Babylon" and hundreds of other SF stories and novels.

MAY.19.1994
I think it was Arthur C. Clarke who said that SF is anything I point to and say, "That's SF." Go pick up a copy of "A Canticle for Liebowitz," one of the real singular masterpieces of the science fiction genre, and it won't fit the narrow criteria you've set up for what qualifies as SF by your lights.

JMS AT GENIE SAID:
MAY.18.1994
Also, I've always considered B5 speculative fiction, which isn't as narrow as hard-core/technobabble science fiction (or, more properly, some aspects of that area, since there has been a goodly amount of hard SF that I've enjoyed and continue to enjoy). To me, SF (either way) isn't about the hardware, isn't about reversing the polarity on the tachyon emitter to reflux the framitz. It's looking to the future, and positing social and political and religious questions. [...] That is an *absolutely* valid definition of SF that has been showcased in some of the best stories written in the SF genre. I'd point you to "A Canticle for Liebowitz" as just one example of one of the most famous books in SF, without a *lick* of hardware/tech in it.

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The Grim Reaper's Book of Days
Author: Ed Morrow -- Published: Dec 1992 -- Format: Paperback
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A Cautionary Record of Famous, Infamous, and Unconventional Exits.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
JAN.24.1995
Also working my way through Ed Morrow's GRIM REAPER'S BOOK OF DAYS.

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Better Than Sex: Confessions of a Political Junkie
Author: Hunter S. Thompson -- Published: Sep 1995 -- Format: Paperback
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Since his 1972 trailblazing opus, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail, Hunter S. Thompson has reported the election story in his truly inimitable, just-short-of-libel style. In Better Than Sex, Thompson hits the dusty trail again - without leaving home - yet manages to deliver a mind-bending view of the 1992 presidential campaign, in all its horror, sacrifice, lust, and dubious glory. Complete with faxes sent to and received from candidate Clinton's top aides, and 100 percent pure gonzo screeds on Richard Nixon, George Bush, and Oliver North, here is the most true-blue campaign tell-all ever penned by man, beast, or Thompson.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
JAN.24.1995
Also currently reading Hunter S. Thompson's new book, BETTER THAN SEX.

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The War Prayer
Author: Mark Twain -- Published: Jan 2002 -- Format: Paperback
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Written by Mark Twain during the Philippine-American War in the first decade of the twentieth century, The War Prayer tells of a patriotic church service held to send the town's young men off to war. During the service, a stranger enters and addresses the gathering. He tells the patriotic crowd that their prayers for victory are double-edged-by praying for victory they are also praying for the destruction of the enemy...for the destruction of human life.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
MAY.25.2003
He's always been a seminal influence on my work. I have pretty much everything he's ever written, absent the five volume set of his journals that's only available to libraries. "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg" is still one of my favorite pieces, as is "The War Prayer," leading to its nod in B5.

JUL.7.1994
Correct; the title of "The War Prayer" is a nod to Twain's piece of the same name, which should be ready by *everyone*.

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My Autobiography
Author: Mark Twain -- Published: Jan 2000 -- Format: Paperback
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Single-volume edition of the 25 "Chapters from My Autobiography" by Mark Twain, first published in the "North American Review" in 1906-7. Includes memories of Twain's wife Livy and daughter Susy as well as anecdotes recalling his boyhood and misadventures.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
MAY.25.2003
For anyone looking on: there is one book I tell anyone who wants to be a writer, to read. Twain's autobiography. It is, quite honestly, probably the best book, best autobiography, ever written. Funny, inspiring, moving, sad, and deeply profound. We think of bios from that time as being dry or irrelevant...TRUST me on this one. It's anything but. I consider it one of the best books I've ever read.

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The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg
Author: Mark Twain -- Published: Jun 1980 -- Format: Paperback
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Twain deals with the temptation and corruption that occurs when a couple receives anonymous gift of money.

JMS AT RASTB5M SAID:
MAY.25.2003
He's always been a seminal influence on my work. I have pretty much everything he's ever written, absent the five volume set of his journals that's only available to libraries. "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg" is still one of my favorite pieces, as is "The War Prayer," leading to its nod in B5.

FEB.26.2001
There's a great story by Mark Twain you should read for more on this: "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg." It says a lot of what happens to faiths when they are not challenged from time to time.

SEP.3.1994
I refer you to a short story by Mark Twain called "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg." I won't tell you much more here than to read it. It should be self-explanatory.

SEP.4.1994
Re: "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg," I will confess to being a bit of a Twain enthusiast/scholar (if I can abuse that latter term for a moment in a burst of unjustificed optimism). I've read virtually everything the man ever wrote, up to and including his journals, which are fascinating on their own, albeit fragmented (for obvious reasos). He even wrote many stories that could be considered SF/fantasy outside of "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." I find myself quoting him frequently. The man knew how to turn a phrase and make a point.

APR.23.1994
Our capacity for greatness is as substantial as our capacity for evil. And we must constantly be reminded of that duality; to pretend it simply isn't there, or is somebody else's problem, inevitably leads to tragedy. (For those interested, btw, I would encourage you to check out a short story by Mark Twain, called "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg." I think you will find it *most* illuminating.)

JMS AT GENIE SAID:
JUN.13.1992
There's a short story entitled "The Man Who Corrupted Hadleyburg," by Mark Twain. In that story, we meet a town of people who have put up a sign outside their town, "Lead Us Not Into Temptation." And they have scrupulously avoided temptation for years. One day, into this town of self-proclaimed and self-satisfied virtue comes temptation, in the form of a bag of gold which someone, offering the right phrase, is supposed to collect. The man who really left it (and we find later it's lead), gives the town's most virtuous people fake phrases, to see if they will try and collect that which is not theirs.

Every one of them fall for it...and the town is embarrassed and ashamed...and many are wonderfully vindicated by this. And now the sign in front of the town reads, "Lead us INTO Temptation." Because it's only when we are truly tested that our virtue means a damn thing.

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Authors: Bester · Carroll · Corwin · Ellison · Frank · Franken · Miller · Morrow · Twain
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