Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Judith Merril. Tesseracts (1985)

     Judith Merril. Tesseracts (1985) Judith Merril (1923-1997) was known as “the mother of SF.” Born and raised in the USA, she moved to Toronto, and spent the last third or so of her life there. More on Wikipedia's page about her.
     She wrote a number of stories and novels herself, but she will likely be remembered as a first class anthologist. This collection of SF stories by Canadian writers shows why. Merril was not afraid to go beyond the conventional modes, tropes, and motifs of the genre. The result is a collection of tales, anecdotes, classic SF, experimental writing, poetry, satire, and surrealistic pieces that defy classification.
     In one story, the old people decide they are birds, and take to perching in trees. The story ends when they migrate south. In another, the reality of the story changes every few sentences. In a third, society has devolved (my term, deliberately) into a mass of “enclaves”, each of which represents a social experiment. In the most conventional story, a burglar discovers the apartment’s owner hooked into a joy-terminal, and rescues her from what may be attempted murder, or attempted suicide.
     As might be expected, the most common tones are irony, cheerful acceptance of the crazy, and elegy. Since the mid-80s, SF has moved more towards elegy and terror. This collection can be read as one of the last examples of an SF that, at least indirectly, offered hope. An excellent collection. *** (2010)

No comments: