This was last week’s piece of weird fiction being discussed over at LibraryThing.
Review: “The Dark”, Karen Joy Fowler, 1991.
Despite one of my interests, the bubonic plague, playing a significant role in this story, I don’t think it quite manages to meld its plot elements together successfully.
Our narrator is an epidemiologist, and the story will take us from 1954 and California to 1967 and Vietnam and back to California.
In the summer of 1954, in Yosemite Park, the Becker family disappears while camping.
In the spring of 1960, two campers will have their food and beer stolen.
In August 1962, Caroline Crosby, a teenage girl, and her family go on a camping trip. Surly and not happy with the trip, things get worse for Caroline when she’s hospitalized for septicemic plague, the form the plague takes when the infection enters the bloodstream. Continue reading →
As a tie-in to a future posting, I will be doing a Raw Feed series on this classic alternate history anthology series.
Raw Feed (1989): What Might Have Been?, Volume 1: Alternate Empires, eds. Gregory Benford and Martin H. Greenberg, 1989.
“In the House of Sorrows“, Poul Anderson — The best part of this story is the central image of the besieged library which gives the story its name. The end scene, revealing the pivotal divergent point for this reality — the destruction of Jerusalem (surprisingly revealed to be the story’s setting) and Judaism before its descendent Christianity and its many effects can be realized, was rather poignant. However, Anderson’s attempt to create an alien world and remind us of its strangeness (and that the narrator is not a twentieth century American) via strange diction, syntax, and vocabulary gives the story a difficult, dense, sometimes jerky feel. I think Anderson could have perhaps realized those ends by another tool than rather archaic style.
“Remaking History“, Kim Stanley Robinson — A delightful story though, for me, its intellectual edge was blunted by having read What Is History? by Edward Hallett Carr since that book deals with many of the same issues in regard to the study of history: where, in a chain of cause and effect, does one say the crucial link is and (the ever popular post-Marx history question) is history made by great men or social movements? Robinson doesn’t really pose an answer except maybe to say art plays its role since a fictionalized representation of a real figure leads to real heroics at the story’s end. Robinson briefly addresses the issue of artistically dealing with history and these questions are quite similar to an historian’s concerns. Setting up an alternate history where the Tehran hostage rescue mission succeeds was original and brilliant. And though rather shallowly drawn, I liked the cadre of part-time, low budget, lunar filmmakers and their friendship. Continue reading →