FIND in
<--prev V28 next-->

From: Michael Andre-Driussi <mantis@sirius.com>
Subject: (urth) mantis reads STRANGE TRAVELERS
Date: Tue, 7 Mar 2000 15:11:22 

Right, well took me long enough to get a copy, didn't it?  And then other
things got in the way.

Well, what's the rush anyway?  I had already read/collected all but six of
the stories, so I already knew three-fifths of the material.

Ah, but it is a strange thing which happens when they are set side-by-side.

Dr. Nick's theory about the central theme (all the wrong escapes) is a very
good one and not one I would argue against.  But what tickles the edge of
my mind right now is the weird genre threads that link the stories.

Again, I read most of these stories before.  "Bluesberry Jam" had struck me
as a Delany story--say something like THE EINSTEIN INTERSECTION and "Time
Considered as a Heliex of Semi-Precious Stones" and maybe some DHALGREN.
Quintessential Delany stuff.  Like Lo Lobi of TEI, with his musical machete
and his Orpheus quest.

"Counting Cats in Zanzibar" struck me as being Asimov's robo-psychologist
whasshername as rewritten by a downbeat author like Ballard.  Did I make
the Tiptree connection at that point, or later?  Certainly by the time I'd
read "The Man in the Pepper Mill" in magazine form.  The protag is so cagey
about her name.

"The Death of Koshchei the Deathless" is related to Lang's.  (I had
forgotten how funny it is, which is depressing because I had only picked it
up at WFC in Monterey--not all that long ago.)

"Bed and Breakfast," one of the ones I hadn't seen before, reminds me of
Chesterton and/or C.S. Lewis.

"And When They Appear," another new-for-me story.  Really a kick in the
gut, but then again, it isn't too far removed from "The War Under the
Tree."  (Imagine letters to the Editor: "Why does Gene Wolfe hate Jesus?!")
Very Ballardian (an unexpergated EMPIRE OF THE SUN, perhaps).

"The Haunted Boardinghouse."  Well, this is related to John Crowley's
LITTLE, BIG: if you didn't know that the house-with-no-back [eek!  what are
you saying?!] is like the five-faced house in LB, then there is also
Crowley's name as one of the 20th century literary giants given in the
text.  This story ends exactly like a John Crowley story almost always

"Useful Phrases."  An obvious Borges piece.  But coming right after "THB,"
that gives it an additional spin.  Close to BIBLIOMEN territory.

"The Man in the Pepper Mill" has the obvious surface reference to Tiptree;
Tiptree seems to lurk in "The Ziggurat," too--many people seemed to sense
that when it first came out, so that year I asked Gene Wolfe if "The
Ziggurat" was a response to "The Women that Men Don't See" and he wrote
back something like "Gee, I wish I'd thought of that!"

"Ain't You 'Most Done?" was new-for-me.  Gaiman related.  As a circular
bookend, riverrunning back to the beginning, but then there are
cross-currents as it changes the first story.  (FWIW, I didn't feel this
was YADM story, like "The Dead Man" and "The Other Dead Man."  It seemed
more like the reality warping in THERE ARE DOORS and various short stories
where book characters come to life.  Reader mileage varies, clearly.)

And that's what got me to thinking: about how many of the other stories are
linked in odd ways, perhaps forming similar bookend/bridges.  Three Tiptree
stories; two stories with plastic dinosaurs.  Women and expensive cars?
Couples, couples, couples: how many permutations?  Borges, Crowley, Gaiman:
authors we know Wolfe enjoys reading.  But Tiptree?  Ballard?  Delany?
(Ballard's presence might be just an artefact of my own reading--then again
I do recall some disagreement with Ballard's fiction in some Wolfe
interview; but I do have a sense of Wolfe saying some positive something
about Delany in some interview somewhere.)

Anyway, just a few thoughts.


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

<--prev V28 next-->