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Short story discussions > March 2011 Nebula Nominee - HOW INTERESTING: A TINY MAN by Harlan Ellison

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message 1: by Candiss (new)

Candiss (tantara) | 1207 comments This thread will host discussion of our second March Nebula Nominee, ”How Interesting: A Tiny Man” by Harlan Ellison. It was originally published in magazine Realms of Fantasy.


message 2: by Karen (last edited Mar 03, 2011 08:21AM) (new)

Karen | 32 comments Read.

Oops. Didn't read the rules saying to wait until the 5th to comment. Sorry!


message 3: by Candiss (new)

Candiss (tantara) | 1207 comments Karen - I commented in the other story thread, but I wanted to post this here, too, in case others wonder when discussions are officially open. Since we are doing a 3-month long themed read instead of our usual format, please disregard the dates and comment whenever you like!


message 4: by Kerry (new)

Kerry (rocalisa) | 487 comments I liked this. It was kind of understated but strong.

I found myself wanting to say "How interesting, a neat little story".

I liked the two options on the ending and how either worked neatly.

Also, did anyone get a particular vibe on whether the narrator was a man or a woman. I initially heard it as a man, but when I looked back, there was no clear evidence one way or the other.


message 5: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 132 comments I presumed the narrator was a man up until the first ending, when I realized it could have been either, though I'm not sure it mattered. Somehow I think the world would have been kinder to a woman who had created a tiny man.


message 6: by Christine (new)

Christine | 594 comments As I read this story, I thought the narrator was a man; not sure why. Somehow I preferred the second ending...it seems right.


message 7: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Flanagan | 23 comments I love the fact that a story read in 5 minutes can have such a strong lasting effect on someone. The peeps in my house have chatted about the story for about an hour so far.


message 8: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1141 comments Kelly wrote: "I love the fact that a story read in 5 minutes can have such a strong lasting effect on someone. The peeps in my house have chatted about the story for about an hour so far."

LOL.

I loved it. "Hell hath no fury like that of the uninvolved." How true. It's a delightful story, but an object lesson on creativity and envy, perhaps.


message 9: by Nick (new)

Nick (doily) | 966 comments Typically astute Harlan Elison -- The mytho-scientific idea packs a punch. It's a great idea investigated in a shor fable-like fashion.

But the two endings? I don't know, makes the author come off as uncertain. I guess that's okay, since the mythos of the story is uncertain (there being no actual science behind the idea). But I liked the second ending better -- I feel maybe he could have ended it that way, then given the first as an "alternate ending". (?)


message 10: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 132 comments Do you remember the movie based on the boardgame Clue? It played with different endings in cinemas, but when they put it on video (and later DVD), all three endings played one after another, with title cards saying "Or maybe it went like this..." but the last one always felt the most real, and after you saw it like that, you couldn't imagine the movie ending with just one of the others. This reminded me of that.


message 11: by Richard (last edited Apr 05, 2011 04:06PM) (new)

Richard (thinkingbluecountingtwo) | 136 comments Kerry wrote: ""How interesting, a neat little story".
..."


Absolutely what I wanted to say.
What struck me most was the disinterested reaction by everyone who met the Tiny Man and his creator, common sense prevails until the story goes mass media, and the uninvolved get furious. I think this is a nice little comment on the current state of the popular media and the mass hysteria that can so easily get whipped up.

Interesting point about the narrators sex. I hadn't even considered it until Kerry and Sarah Pi's posts, my innate chauvinism was probably at the fore, assuming a man, but upon further reflection I can't decide either way, probably need a re-read or two.

I also can't make my mind up about the choice of endings, don't know whether it strengthens or weakens the story. Ending one straight forward, realistic and practical. Ending two twisty, metaphysical and a big 2 fingers up to all the moral hysterics out there.
Number 1 fits the story better in my mind, but number 2 is more satisfying isn't it.


message 12: by Christine (new)

Christine | 594 comments Interesting that this story is no longer available for free; as I remember it, the reason I thought the narrator was a male was that there was a mention of putting the tiny man in the breast pocket, and most women's blouses/shirts don't have one. If there is a breast pocket, most women don't put things in it. I went back to reread that portion of the story and found it no longer available. I hope this doesn't happen with other stories on our reading list


message 13: by Candiss (new)

Candiss (tantara) | 1207 comments Christine wrote: "Interesting that this story is no longer available for free; as I remember it, the reason I thought the narrator was a male was that there was a mention of putting the tiny man in the breast pocket..."

Christine - Rats! I wish they would have said something to the effect of "the stories will be available until x date". How frustrating! Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I'll check each story every couple of days, and hopefully they won't all start closing up!


message 14: by Kerry (new)

Kerry (rocalisa) | 487 comments Interesting what you say about the breast pocket, Christine. I must say, if I was wearing a shirt with a breat pocket and I had a tiny man to carry around, that would be my first choice as a location as he'd be high up and could see where we were going.

(In case it isn't clear, by the way, I'm a female Kerry.)

I went and looked it up and it says "suit jacket pocket" which could technically be female, but does read more like a man to me.


message 15: by Sarah (new)

Sarah | 132 comments It's usually presumed that the narrator is the same sex as the author if no indicators are given, so most writers try to make it clear if that is not the case. I'd think that the no-other-indicators plus the suit jacket pocket would mean we were meant to assume it was a man. When women wear suits I think we tend to carry a bag and not put things in the pockets, since it changes the line of the suit. My only business suit has vestigial pockets that are only meant for show; I think they are sewn shut, in fact. A lot of women's suit jackets don't have pockets at all, but this narrator said it as if all suit jackets had pockets and it was nothing to think about. This is the longest paragraph I have ever written about clothing in my entire life.


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