Cover to Cover #299B: Feedback and Books

Voicemail: Arkle wonders about the validity of "Books That Make You Dumb", and the correlation between test scores and required reading. Stackpole suggests that neuroplasticity is affected by encouraged reading but not by required reading. Lejon compares The Dragon Page to bardic traditions; Wade in San Diego wonders about the past; Jason appreciates the anniversary repeat of the Robert Jordan interview from 2 years ago.

Submitting Listener comments: If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know!

Listener Review: Web Genii reviews The Victorians, a reference book that many fantasy writers may find useful.

The Library: New this week: BSI Starside: Final Inquiries by Roger MacBride Allen; MechWarrior Dark Age: To Ride the Chimera by Kevin Killiany; Heroes Adrift by Moira J. Moore; Spider Star by Mike Brotherton; Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie; Swordmasters by Selina Rosen; Reaper's Gale by Steven Erickson; Anvil of Stars by Greg Bear; The Chronicles of Narnia omnibus edition by C. S. Lewis.

Don't forget, you can also comment on books listed in The Library... look through the listings and feel free to post your thoughts and comments there.

Promo: INFECTED by Scott Sigler, in hardcover on April 1 2008


  1. Wow, I'd forgotten I'd made that call. Awesome that it got played.

  2. I have to call shenanigans on the answer regarding Evo Terra's departure.
    I recall when he left Farpoint Media shows, he expressed (I don't recall if it was on a non-Farpoint podcast or on a blog) surprise at "stuff" going on that he was ignorant or clueless to that came to a head and necessitated his leaving. He avoided specifics, but he made it pretty clear that there were personal issues going on with him and some other co-hosts that he didn't realize was an issue until it was too late--and he was pretty much ousted.

    Now, that's been months and months ago, so it's possible whatever that original issue was has been resolved or the hatched buried, and they've agreed to claim the reason was Evo's other projects. But the point is, even if that's the current "official" version, it's not the whole story.

    Anyway, love Dragon Page, guys! Mr. Stackpole, you rock!!

  3. Well I'd say it was a short form answer. There are always two sides to any breakup.

    A post about this is on the old M&E website for those who are curious.

  4. There's more than two sides to any story. Three sides is the norm, and in this case you could even say there were 5 sides.

    But it's in the past now. Finis.

  5. I think you overlooked an other reason to read LOLITA. It is simply a great novel and one of the finest examples of ecstatic English prose in 20th century fiction. Quite an achievement for Nabokov who originally wrote nine or ten books in Russian, his native tongue, before writing in English.

    While science fiction often gets a bum rap for a poor quality of prose, I think there may be a few examples of finer prose stylists in the genre. Among the science fiction and fantasy authors, who did you think writes the best English prose? I always thought of Samuel R. Delany was a highly literary writer.

  6. Regarding that book/intelligence chart, we need to be careful of confusing correlation with causation. I think Mr. Stackpole alluded to it correctly when he said the difference is in whether you are forced to read that stuff and if you do so voluntarily.
    If you voluntarily read Lolita, or The Odyssey, or Chaucer, etc, chances are you may have a more diverse, holistic, and elevated level of intelligence.

    But! That may be completely meaningless. It may be a matter of availability. I can think of a few people who are extremely intelligent, and within their sphere of society, well-versed in many areas. But because of factors like peer-pressure in school to not appear more intelligent than his friends (even though he was) or lack of availability of less pop-culture-ized media around--reading Chaucer's not really an option.

    But then, it's all ridiculous anyway because why does anyone read Chaucer or Paradise Lost? Cultural Capital. So you can SAY you read it, and judge your social circle based around people who have also read similar works. According to Marxist theory, cultural production is like any other commodity (as Mr. Stackpole gave evidence to with his story about how page length in one book was determined solely by how many units could be planned to be boxed), and so the only questions that matter when examining a cultural product: Who uses it and what is it for?

    And the only real use today for epic poetry and most "classical" literature is simply cultural capital, class distinction, ego gratification, intellectual discrimination.

    And if this idea offends you (as it did me when I first heard it), chances are you are guilty of venerating the vaunted works you've read based on the esteem and ego gratification it's given you. Think on it.