Cordwainer Bird

Harlan Ellison is one of my favorite authors. He mixed genres and included mature themes in his work when it was truly a struggle to do so. In fact, he used a pseudonym to indicate to fans when his efforts might have been perverted and not in the good way.

Ellison has on occasion used the pseudonym “Cordwainer Bird” to alert members of the public to situations in which he feels his creative contribution to a project has been mangled beyond repair by others, typically Hollywood producers or studios. (See, e.g., Alan Smithee.) The “Cordwainer Bird” moniker is a tribute to fellow SF writer Paul M. A. Linebarger, better known by his pen name, Cordwainer Smith. The origin of the word “Cordwainer” is shoemaker (from working with cordovan leather for shoes). The term used by Linebarger was meant to imply the industriousness of the pulp author. Ellison has said, in interviews and in his writing, that his version of the pseudonym was meant to mean “a shoemaker for birds.” Since he has used the pseudonym mainly for works he wants to distance himself from, it seems appropriate — in that it can be understood to mean that “this work is for the birds”. Stephen King once said he thought that it meant that Ellison was giving people who mangled his work a literary version of “the bird.” (via Wikipedia)

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Posted by on 10/16/2004. Filed under Books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Responses are currently closed, but you can trackback from your own site.
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