of, relating to, or characteristic of the writing of Cyril M. Kornbluth
The proper name of this little intricacy, says its inventor, Cyril F.-X. Kornbluth, is ‘A Piece of String, or, They Shall Not Pass.’ It is played at night, by two persons, on a dimly-lit street. The kornbluthian conspirators select as their victim a strolling pedestrian, or a pair, who, in a few seconds, will pass them. [...] The victims invariably step off into the street to avoid becoming entangled in the string. As soon as they have taken this fatal step the conspirators show very plainly that there is no piece of string and laugh loudly and nastily to see their victims’ discomfiture. ]
A Texan who specializes in cryptanalysis announces confidentially the result of his analysis of Kornbluthian and other Mind-of-Mannish poetry. He has discovered that such poetry conceals a secret code in which the Michelists agreed to keep in touch with one another when freedom started being restricted. And that explains why the poetry in question makes such perfect nonsense as poetry.
‘Stars’ and ‘Demolished Man’ have superficial differences and basic similarities, to date ‘Jauntig’ [sic] (TP) replacing ‘peeping’ (ESP) as this story’s added talent creates a Kornbluthian twist on the society of de Camp’s ‘Stolen Dormouse’.
Even The Space Merchants relies, as it goes on, more and more heavily upon Kornbluthian elements—there is a quite gratuitous scene with a female sadistic maniac who totes a sharpened knitting needle.
Cyril Kornbluth spent much of his short life around politicians, military men, business executives, and others who love power for its own sake. If he was cynical about humanity, and he was, at least he came by his cynicism fairly, through frequent and steady exposure. And put it to good use in his wry and skilful fictional dissections of the dynamics of human ambition—of which this small masterpiece is a classic Kornbluthian example.
If there is a typical Kornbluthian story, it is ‘The Marching Morons’ (originally in the April, 1951 issue of Galaxy). It begins with a character sincerely near and dear to Kornbluth’s heart, a potter. The opening scene works as well as it does primarily because Mary Kornbluth, his wife, was a potter and ceramicist, and the details are spot-on as a result.
Last modified 2022-03-25 19:13:39
In the compilation of some entries, HDSF has drawn extensively on corresponding entries in OED.