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From: akt@attglobal.net
Subject: (urth) And When They Appear
Date: Thu, 21 Sep 2000 20:05:54 

From Adam:

> I finally got around to reading STRANGE TRAVELLERS, though I'd read a
> number of the stories in it before.  On a first reading, I'd say the
> major one I'd missed is "And When They Appear."  This is one of
> grimmest stories (which is saying a lot), made more powerful by the
> matter-of-fact narration and by the deceptive "Christmas story"
> atmosphere of the first half.  (It just struck me that this first half
> reads a lot like a Bradbury pastiche.)  It's also one of the most
> effective uses of a child narrator by anyone that I've read.  In some
> ways the story is like a reprise of "The Death of Doctor Island," with
> boy protagonist in an enclosed setting controlled by an AI, but the
> story stands on its own.

I don't think it's a quarter as good as TDoDI. It's too disjointed; the
gothic elements don't come together. Mouse and Owl, Smoky, the parents
in the freezer, Corporal Charlie, the folklore figures, the gratuitous
Jesus, the angry mob--why?. Even the gnomic sentence at the end: "'I
don't like it,' he said [regarding Christmas], but as soon as he said
it, he knew it was not true." This is, we are led to believe, is after
Corporal Charlie has had his way with Sherby. Messy stories irritate me.
From Bradbury too, who, in later work, epitomizes mess.

> Besides, the most horrific moment is not the molestation, but Sherby's
> throwing a rock at Smoky.

Me too, as it happens. But more annoying is that Smoky is never used
properly in the story. He and Cpl. Charlie are the only "real" figures,
and they're virtually thrown away.

> While I'm thinking of it: the man who takes Sherby is referred to
> several times as "Corporal Charlie" (as he instructs Sherby) but once
> "Uncle Charlie."  Is this last a typo?

Given what I feel to be the general carelessness throughout, I'd say


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