Tuesday, September 25, 2012

“Wait for evening.
Then you'll be alone.

Wait for the playground to empty.
Then call out those companions from childhood:

The one who closed his eyes
and pretended to be invisible.
The one to whom you told every secret.
The one who made a world of any hiding place.

And don't forget the one who listened in silence
while you wondered out loud:

Is the universe an empty mirror? A flowering tree?
Is the universe the sleep of a woman?”
                                  from Become Becoming
                                  Li-Young Lee
 I have always read and enjoyed science fiction and I have a modest collection. My collection includes early pulp magazines from the 1920’s and 1930’s, Amazing Stories, Weird Tales, Air Wonder Stories with their lurid covers of dinosaurs, aliens and terrible experiments gone wrong, through the small press era after World War Two with small publishers like Arkham House (mostly horror) to SF presses like Gnome, Shasta and Fantasy Press producing beautiful limited edition hardcovers, thru the paperback revolution with companies like Bart, Avon, Ballantine, Signet and especially the Ace Doubles running from the 1940’s to the 1970’s . I do not read or collect much modern material the field has gotten quite large and tastes have changed, but I find lots to read and collect and ponder in the (at least for me) more congenial older works.
Pulps spanning 1927 to 1933 

Pulps spanning 1936 to 1941

I was creating list of ten of my favourite stories to discuss with a friend and I realized what one of my very favourite stories was (based on rereading, thinking about etc. ) “In Hiding” by Wilmar Shiras published in Astounding Science Fiction in 1948 she later expanded this to Children of the Atom which was published by Gnome Press with a beautiful dust jacket but as is often the case I prefer the short story to the novel. It tells the story of a young boy and his relationship with the school psychiatrist who eventually realizes that the boy Timothy Paul is a genius, his mother was exposed to radiation from a nuclear accident and Timothy is a mutant. This has made him a genius of incredible power, but he wisely has concealed his gifts (because we all know what people are like) and has conducted several adult careers via correspondence while doing lots of cool stuff in his grandparent’s garage.

Early hardcovers

Selection of paperbacks

Two favorite author Norton and Simak

The story has several problems and is only one of a number of stories based on the mutant child theme, but I love it and one thing that really interests me is the prevalence of the special child unrecognized by their peers theme, in literature from Greek myths to Dickens to the present day whether the child is the offspring of a god, the heir to a throne or an immense fortune, or in SF an alien or a mutant. That this theme is both popular and convenient is obvious by the frequency with which it is used, but I wonder if it does not also dovetail with a stage in adolescence that many children go through, where they deal with the all too common feeling of alienation, the emotional outbursts and fragile psyche that come with the physical changes and social miscues that accompany them on their journey to adulthood. I often feel my journey does not seem to have ended and I have pretty much given up expecting to arrive. But if I do I want to arrive via rocketship and with a very cool raygun. Oh yeah and a jetpack.
A Favorite Artist Richard Powers

“ We sat by the fire in our caves,
and because we were poor, we made up a tale
about a treasure mountain
that would open only for us

and because we were always defeated,
we invented impossible riddles
only we could solve,
monsters only we could kill,
women who could love no one else “

from Why We Tell Stories
Lisel Mueller


Lené Gary said...

Those covers are great!

The book titles make me wonder what kinds of poems you might write if you stacked them deliberately and took a photo of their spines. Have you seen those spine poems running around?

Hope you're enjoying fall. :)


Guy said...

Hi Lené

I have not seen spine poems but I will take a look. It offers some interesting ideas for writing in the future.
Thanks for stopping by.


Lené Gary said...

Here's a quick link to give you a sense of what I was thinking about: http://www.brainpickings.org/index.php/2012/08/17/book-spine-poetry-reader-submissions/

Sending smiles...

Guy said...

Hi Lené

Thanks of the link this is a really interesting idea, I have been playing with some books and will try to post some spine poems to my poetry blog on Sunday. I find it is really helping me think in terms of phrases for my other poems so I am very grateful.


Gary said...

Wow that squirrel is impressive!! Boom & Gary of the Vermilon River, Canada.

Guy said...

Hi Gary

I have spent a fair bit fattening him up.