Kurt Vonnegut Jr. on man-eating lampreys, human jizz in space, and other topics for PBS Digital’s “Blank on Blank”

By on November 10, 2015

You may already know we’re big fans of Blank on Blank/PBS Digital Studios here at Night Flight, and today we have their latest animated cartoon feature with writer Kurt Vonnegut Jr. — from a lecture he gave at New York University on November 6, 1970 — wherein he tells the audience he’s got a new short story to be published soon, called “The Big Space Fuck.”

“I’ve written a story called ‘The Big Space Fuck’,” Vonnegut tells the assembled crowd, who you can hear laughing, which then makes the author himself crack up. “It’s about the end of the world,… all that are left are lampreys, and human beings, and they’re turning into man-eating lampreys.”

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“What was the dirtiest story I ever wrote?” Kurt Vonnegut would later ponder in his 1981 “autobiographical collage,” Palm Sunday. “Surely ‘The Big Space Fuck,’ the first story of literature to have ‘fuck’ in its title. It was probably the last short story I will ever write. I did it for my friend Harlan Ellison, who printed it in his anthology, Again, Dangerous Visions.

The story is set in the far-distant future year of 1979, after humans have polluted the planet, and so NASA is shooting vast quantities of human jizz into space in the hopes that the sperm will take hold somewhere else in the galaxy and create new life.

Meanwhile, back here on Earth, where kids are allowed to sue their parents for screwing up their lives forever, one couple are served with a summons by their daughter, who claims her brilliant artistic career has been ruined ever since she was four years old, after they yelled at her for drawing on new wallpaper.

And then they all get eaten by those giant mutant man-eating lampreys of death. Something like that.

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Earlier in the lecture, which was originally broadcast on KPFT — a listener-sponsored community radio station in Houston, Texas, which began broadcasting March 1, 1970 as the fourth station in the Pacifica radio family — Vonnegut also talks about his childhood in Indiana, being raised by a black nanny, and his mother’s mental illness, and how she was crazy in the daytime (especially if someone took a photograph of her) but even crazier at night.

He also muses on writing and the day-to-day struggles of the writer, and why so many in the profession commit suicide.

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Check out the Production Notes post which shows how this animated feature came together.

And, be sure to check out our other posts from PBS Digital Studios’s Blank on Blank series, including our previous animated shorts on Hunter S. Thompson, Tom Waits and Bill Murray.

About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.