April 28, 2006


Cheryl Morgan

So, they’ve got one of these women in a sexy black dress meeting the winners, and I just have to wonder why is there always a hot babe? You never see a handsome, tuxedoed square jawed type.

Never been to a Hugo ceremony, have you. Now I have to admit that our stud muffins are not always the lean and athletic specimens of manhood that a girl might want escorting her - we are, after all, rely on volunteers rather than hiring people from modeling agencies - but we do generally try to be enlightened and egalitarian.

Denise Hamilton

I too found the award presenter babe in the clingy black dress extremely bizarre. And her biceps scared me, frankly. I do think that a good book can be be sexy and hot, the intellectual and literary equivalent of the sexy black dress, but somehow this gal just seemed very out of place, like she stumbled mistakenly off the set a Wheel of Fortune taping or an infomercial for plastic surgery. Makes you long for Vanna White.

The woman who accepted the award for Robert Littell in Mystery by the way, is Norma Barzman, who is in her 80s. She was a blacklisted screenwriter who fled with her husband to Paris in 1949 to avoid being subpoena'd by the McCarthy redbaiters. Her breezy yet serious memoir, The Red and the Blacklist, published by Nation Books, is a fascinating read.

- Denise

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  • The Elegant Variation is "Fowler’s (1926, 1965) term for the inept writer’s overstrained efforts at freshness or vividness of expression. Prose guilty of elegant variation calls attention to itself and doesn’t permit its ideas to seem naturally clear. It typically seeks fancy new words for familiar things, and it scrambles for synonyms in order to avoid at all costs repeating a word, even though repetition might be the natural, normal thing to do: The audience had a certain bovine placidity, instead of The audience was as placid as cows. Elegant variation is often the rock, and a stereotype, a cliché, or a tired metaphor the hard place between which inexperienced or foolish writers come to grief. The familiar middle ground in treating these homely topics is almost always the safest. In untrained or unrestrained hands, a thesaurus can be dangerous."


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