Friday, December 19, 2014

In fact, I hate to go at all.

From "Snuffles":

It was a game, but it couldn't last long. Phelan whimpered and tried to climb the rock wall at the blind end of his pocket. Margie cajoled and told Snuffles how good friends they had always been, and wouldn't he let her go? Billy Cross filled his pipe and lit it and sat down to wait it out.

Phelan went first, and he died like a craven. But no one, not sure how he himself might die, should hold that overly against a man.

Snuffles thundered in, cut him down in the middle of a scream, and rushed back to his commanding spot in the middle of the weapons center.

Margie spread out her hands and began to cry, softly, not really in terror, when he attacked. The pseudo-bear broke her neck, but with a blow that was almost gentle in comparison with the others, and he scurried again to center.

And Billy Cross puffed on his pipe. “I hate to go like this, Snuff, old boy. In fact, I hate to go at all. If I made a mistake to die for, it was in being such a pleasant, trusting fellow. I wonder if you ever noticed, Snuff, what a fine, upstanding fellow I really am?”

And that was the last thing Billy Cross ever said, for the big animal struck him dead with one tearing blow. And the smoke still drifted in the air from Billy's pipe.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Collected Short Stories Volume 1

[cross-posted on Goodreads:]

Each of the stories in Centipede's first volume is a gem worthy of finer inspection. Giving star ratings is a fool's task, but here goes...

***** Love, Love, Love - Personal Favorites Going in the Tiny Desert Island Anthology
"The Hole on the Corner"

**** Great Stories - Going in the Larger More Spacious Luxury Desert Island Bookshelf Anthology

"The Man Who Made Models"
"The Six Fingers of Time"
"Frog on the Mountain"
"Narrow Valley"
"Days of Grass, Days of Straw"
"Thus We Frustrate Charlemagne"
"Rivers of Damascus"

*** Good Stories - worth further inspection on the mainland; better than the large majority of lesser stories in the world

"Square and Above Board"
"Jack Bang's Eyes"
"All But the Words"
"The Ungodly Mice of Doctor Drakos"
"Condillac's Statue or Wrens in His Head"
"About a Secret Crocodile"
"The Ninety-Ninth Cubicle"
"The Skinny People of Leptophlebo Street"

** Average Stories, nothing of note - none of those here

* Bad Stories - nope, not a one of 'em to be found.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Or how can someone enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man? Then indeed he may plunder his house.

I just deleted a looooong "ramblier"-than-usual post. The length was mostly padding. I am attempting a kindness in cutting it down.

Here's the very short version: Freddy Foley is a pirate!

Here's the moderately short version:

While reflecting on the FB conversation with Kevin and Gregorio from last night, I started thinking about names this morning.

Freddy is a diminutive version of Alfred or Frederick.

The name Alfred is a Germanic name of Old English origin, composed of the elements ælf "elf" and ræd "counsel".

Frederick is a masculine given name meaning "peaceful ruler." It is the English form of the German name Friedrich. Its meaning is derived from the Germanic word elements frid, or peace, and ric, meaning "ruler" or "power."

Lafferty lays out what he's doing with the discussion of the Patricks/patricians. Right from the beginning, we have a guy named "Little Peaceful Ruler Elf Friend" Foley. Freddy is like a Patrick, except that he's a Freddy instead.

I knew the Fred meaning because I have a friend named Fred. That was easy enough.

I had to go looking for the Foley meaning. My experience with the word had to do with sound recording and catheters, neither of which seemed at all relevant.

I quickly found this gem of knowledge:

"The name is derived from the original modern Irish Ó Foghlú and older Irish Ó Foghladha, meaning "plunderer".... In Old English, the language of Anglo-Saxons, the name Foley has a loose meaning of "pirate" or "marauder"." 

So, Freddy Foley is the Little Peaceful Ruler Plunderer.

And all of that led me to the title of this post. I started thinking of Fourth Mansions as an extended riff on "The Parable of the Strong Man."

Based on the FB conversation and this names discovery, I suspect that the latter half of the novel will involve some peaceful plundering and a transfer of ruling authority.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dammit, fat man, I will ask questions and I won't hide.....I'm not stupid. That's only the permanent impression I leave.

I've read the first four chapters of Fourth Mansions. It surprised me by feeling the most instantly familiar of all of his novels so far.

I should probably wait until I'm done with the novel instead of rambling and speculating. But here's a particularly unpolished ramble just the same.

The Harvesting/Brainweaving reminded me of the esp circles in Bester's Demolished Man and of Simak's recurrent theme of psychic development as the next stage in human evolution/development. I can't think of more specifics off the top of my head, but this was one prominent thread of the Campbell era. Surely, Lafferty is in some way responding to this, no, even if it's not primarily what he's up to? Yea? Nay?

Beyond the psi premise is the secret society of jolly defenders of the world. This immediately makes me think of Blaylock especially and also Powers, both of which often use such groups or recurring mythological characters operating under the radar of everyday recognition and happy to be behind the scenes. This idea of folks involved in secret realities is at least traceable back to Charles Williams and his supernatural thrillers with ordinary characters getting swept up into archetypes and arcane activities. And it probably goes back further to Arthurian myths and further back yet. What large part of this am I ignorant of?

I'm just thinking aloud, throwing this out there in the hopes of engaging someone (is blogging a step toward brainweaving?)

Past Master is a mashup of political thriller and utopia and Renaissance farce/morality tale.

Space Chantey is a mashup of the Odyssey and Space Opera.

Reefs of Earth is a mashup of Twain-like boyish Americana, tall tale, and alien invasion.

The Devil is Dead is a mashup of sailor story, Irish bender, and Neanderthal race relations.

Sindbad is a mashup of The Arabian Nights and pawn shop electronics and spy thriller.

So, it's part of Lafferty's style to adopt and adapt and make new. He anticipated remix culture. Because all of Western Culture was remix culture before it was flattened and stifled and silenced. The samples beneath his tracks are always present, always audible, yet the result is never that we fault Lafferty for stealing from Western Culture. Our ears are opened to hear the reverberations of all of Lafferty's gloriously mashed-up musical project working its way back in time, seeding itself in Western Culture as Western Culture, picking up the everlasting refrain of life and death and new life. Every seed Lafferty has sown shall die, into the past and into the future. Then life and stories will be possible again. Odysseus might make his way home if he can remember the tune to the Lay of Roadstrum. Arab caliphs yet await the stories from Chicago that will restore their kingdoms. 

What is Lafferty adopting and adapting and making new in Fourth Mansions? Is it a mashup of 50s sf esp with Arthurian defenders with a literalized metaphor of spiritual ascent? And/Or something else that I'm missing?