Thursday, June 12, 2014

He had a finely tuned soul, but it had a wide range.

I should know better than to read anyone else's words before I plunk out my own.

After reading "One at a Time," I trawled the Internet for reviews and found Andrew's fantastic post, beating me to everything that I would have written.

The following bit from the story is worth repeating, though, so here it is:


“I thought your stories were getting a little too tall, McSkee. But if you’re no more than forty years old, then your stories do not make sense.”

“Never said they did, John. You put unnatural conditions on a tale.”


It's hard not to read this as Lafferty speaking through McSkee, defending his own fiction against the objections that he must have received. This story and others are deliberate acts of busting apart all of the "unnatural conditions" (theory, three act structure, whatever) that we accumulate and bring to each story. We expect things to be just so and we are upset when they are not. This dismantling of expectations, I think, is what folks mean when they speak or write about Lafferty being "his own genre." Approaching him via genre (any genre) tropes is destined to fail. For all I know, I owned Orbit 4 in the mid-90s. I think I did. I don't remember this story, but I can easily imagine my younger self reading it and dismissing it as nonsense, perhaps stupid fun, but not something that belongs in an sf anthology. I don't think I would have liked it.

I probably fancied myself as having a finely tuned soul. Unfortunately, with no range at all.

1 comment:

  1. Exactly! Nicely stated. Can't really add anything to that.