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Sunday, December 10, 2006

I admit it. This week I didn't even crack Nick Hornby's playbook open. I'm just winging it.

Last week, I read:
  • Alan Dean Foster, "Venting"
  • Isaac Szpindel, "From Gehenna"
  • Brian W. Aldiss, "The Night That All Time Broke Out"
  • Me, "The Evil of the Recidivist"
  • Howard Rodman, "The Man Who Went to the Moon--Twice"
  • Philip K. Dick, "Faith of Our Fathers
A few weeks ago, I shelled out $7.99 for a paperback anthology, SLIPSTREAMS, edited by Martin H. Greenberg & John Helfers. I was aquainted with some of the stories in the more "literary" end of the style, so I thought this would be a chance to see some things that were decidedly closer to the genre end.

The first tale I read, "Venting," was very straightforward and complete, if simple. The little I know about the main character is everything I need to. I didn't care much for "From Gehenna," but that wasn't Szpindel's fault. True, I saw the ending coming a mile away (especially with the "subtle" blurb on the back cover). But after last week's double shot of Jack the Ripper stories from DANGEROUS VISIONS by Bloch and Ellison, I was worn out.

Honestly, I'm not too thrilled about what I've read so far, but I'm only two stories in. The only reason the book interested me in the first place is because I'm interested in exploring the whole Slipstream style. Hence, the attempt that was made in "The Evil of the Recidivist." Though you could say that it failed to the extent that the story could be labeled strictly "sci-fi."

Maybe it was the week. It was hellish at work. Chalk it up to the inevitable atmosphere of an Ivy League school during finals week. That could be why "All Time Broke Out" was another one I didn't "get." Yes, I understood the plot, especially after reading the forward and afterward. But I really wasn't in the mood for a story about temporal physics gone awry.

"Went to the Moon" was my favorite of the bunch. The sci-fi element wasn't obvious until near the end, but that just goes to show how a compelling story can sometimes outweigh other considerations in the hands of a master.

"Faith of Our Fathers" is by far the most interesting "What If the Wrong Side Won the Cold War" stories I've ever read. The truth I took away from it concerns how, then and now, politics is sometimes the least of our problems.

"Ugh glumph hum herm morm glug humk," the woman muttered.

Which means, roughly translated from the Old Stone, "Why the heck does this always happen to mankind just when he's on the goddam point of getting civilised again?"

-Brian Aldiss, "The Night That All Time Broke Out"
Next week: I've been in a Charles Bukowski/Raymond Carver mood this past week. It's time to indulge, I think.
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