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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

"Melancholy Elephants" by Spider Robinson

First appeared in Analog. It won the Hugo and Analog Readers Poll, was up for the Locus award. It was reprinted by Isaac Asimov, Martin H. Greenberg, Stanley Schmidt, and Garyn G. Roberts. Read online.

Mrs. Martin is a cold killer:
"[T]he mugger made his play. She killed him instead of disabling him. Which was obviously not a measured, balanced action—the official fuss and paperwork could make her late. Annoyed at herself, she stuffed the corpse under a shiny new Westinghouse roadable."
She visits the Senator to convince him that perpetual copyright is not in the interests of the creative. Mrs. Martin lost her husband when he couldn't produce a suitably original song for her. The Senator, however, has already been bought by the other side.

The argument is convincing--at least to me, but maybe that's because I've read it multiple times and I'm thoroughly brain-washed.

The title doesn't jog the memory (that may be part of the story's trick). It refers to the adage that elephants never forget, but--the story adds--you never see happy elephants due to their long memories. Instead, we need to forget to forge ahead.

The narrative is more of an essay. Most of the "action" is a debate, handily won.

Mrs. Martin seems a literary precursor to William Gibson's Molly Millions although it's not clear what this does for this particular narrative. Perhaps a lack of allowable creativity in their society leads to lives of crime and hard-heartedness.

Below is a graph from Wikipedia showing visually how copyright has changed over the years:

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