Monday, October 15, 2018

Gardner Dozois introduces "Slow Tuesday Night"

From the anthology A Day in the Life, first published 1972, still available as an ebook via Baen (see links below).
“By 1990, we will have television.” SF has always been fond of statements like that. Most of them have been wrong—hardly anyone foresaw the incredible- acceleration of our society, the cultural/technological/psychological explosion that wrenched us from Kitty Hawk to Copernicus in seventy years, that gave us credit cards and pollution and LSD, that shoved us into the mass nervous breakdown of the late sixties. As a result, only those stories that were the most radical and farfetched in their conception of life in 1970 bear even a conservative correlation to reality. Satire ages best—I’m sure to the horror of the satirists, who must watch their created absurdities and distortions creeping into the headlines and becoming mundane. Listen to a TV commercial, watch an X-rated movie, look out the window (remember windows?), step outside and discover that you can’t breathe the air. Notice how much your morning newspaper resembles The Marching Morons? Catch-22 is one of the most realistic war novels ever written. Ask any private who’s ever been caught in the gears.

One thing we can be fairly sure of: if we don’t blow up the world or strangle in our own excreta, the future will be more complex and strange than we suppose, maybe more strange than we can even imagine. R. A. Lafferty—a man possessed of one of the most daring, flexible and incisive imaginations in the world—here blips us through a slow Tuesday night with the speed of a computer data transfer. Read it and laugh, because it is very funny, and at the moment it is satire. If you’re still around forty years from now, do the existing societal equivalent of reading it again, and you may find yourself laughing out of the other side of your mouth (remember mouths?). It will probably be much too conservative.