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Better to Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril Paperback – Apr 19 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Between the Lines (April 19 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1896357571
  • ISBN-13: 978-1896357577
  • Product Dimensions: 2.1 x 18.5 x 22.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 549 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #699,964 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Clements on Sept. 23 2002
Format: Paperback
Perhaps if Judith Merril had lived to complete her memoirs, they could have rivalled Isaac Asimov's In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Felt. However, we will never know; she died with her life's chronicle barely begun, leaving grand-daughter Emily to salvage this book from her notes. The result is a sump of anecdotes and letters, giving a tantalising glimpse of this prominent female member of the early science fiction writing community.
Although Merril takes an early pop at sanitised SF autobiographies (presumably referring to ex-husband Fred Pohl's The Way the Future Was), editor Emily openly admits to cutting some of her juicier revelations; yesterday's ex-husbands are still today's cherished grandfathers. Instead, she tips reams of cliquey, fannish correspondence into the text, while neglecting all but the briefest glimpse of the inner workings of Merril's mind as an author or editor.
I was open to the possibility that Merril was an influential SF author, or even, like Gardner Dozois, a talented writer who sacrificed her own career to help others. It was this possibility that led me to buy this book, since Merril was conspicuous in her absence from Fred Pohl's own memoirs, and I suspected something untoward was going on. However, in a book that seems to spend more time singing the praises of Toronto as a tourist destination, there is only one point at which the text devotes any significant amount of space to Merril's craft, and that only succeeds in making her look like a naïve buffoon. Her muddled musings on Japanese linguistics left me aghast, as did the realisation that this darling of the SF world had taken several months to stumble upon the realisation that a good translator should speak both the source and target language.
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By A Customer on July 1 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is juicy (there's gossip about famous sci fi writers!) and Merril has insteresting views on important political and cultural events. It tells the story of early science fiction from the perspective of an independent, unique, fascinating woman. It made me think about how history is recorded and that the only stories that seem to count are the ones that are written down.
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Amazon.com: 2 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
a mere shadow on the hearth Sept. 23 2002
By Jonathan Clements - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Perhaps if Judith Merril had lived to complete her memoirs, they could have rivalled Isaac Asimov's In Memory Yet Green and In Joy Still Felt. However, we will never know; she died with her life's chronicle barely begun, leaving grand-daughter Emily to salvage this book from her notes. The result is a sump of anecdotes and letters, giving a tantalising glimpse of this prominent female member of the early science fiction writing community.
Although Merril takes an early pop at sanitised SF autobiographies (presumably referring to ex-husband Fred Pohl's The Way the Future Was), editor Emily openly admits to cutting some of her juicier revelations; yesterday's ex-husbands are still today's cherished grandfathers. Instead, she tips reams of cliquey, fannish correspondence into the text, while neglecting all but the briefest glimpse of the inner workings of Merril's mind as an author or editor.
I was open to the possibility that Merril was an influential SF author, or even, like Gardner Dozois, a talented writer who sacrificed her own career to help others. It was this possibility that led me to buy this book, since Merril was conspicuous in her absence from Fred Pohl's own memoirs, and I suspected something untoward was going on. However, in a book that seems to spend more time singing the praises of Toronto as a tourist destination, there is only one point at which the text devotes any significant amount of space to Merril's craft, and that only succeeds in making her look like a naïve buffoon. Her muddled musings on Japanese linguistics left me aghast, as did the realisation that this darling of the SF world had taken several months to stumble upon the realisation that a good translator should speak both the source and target language. In layman's terms, this is akin to discovering that the words you're reading are best approached from left to right.
Emily Pohl-Weary's rescue job appears to have been a heroic effort, but ultimately self-defeating. I can only assume that there was so little of the true Merril left to work with, that the best Emily could hope for was a basic chronology of her grandmother's life, with a couple of asides on the way. I don't doubt that Merril is worthy of a book-length study, but this volume failed to provide any evidence of why. More about why her writings were so highly thought-of would have helped greatly.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Herstory of Science Fiction July 1 2003
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book is juicy (there's gossip about famous sci fi writers!) and Merril has insteresting views on important political and cultural events. It tells the story of early science fiction from the perspective of an independent, unique, fascinating woman. It made me think about how history is recorded and that the only stories that seem to count are the ones that are written down.

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