Monday, August 18, 2014

Shaggy dog story (sorry)

From the category of "cool things that are new to me if not necessarily new in and of themselves" is this story.  Most reliable info I've read puts original publication at 2005, so it's recent anyway.  The career of its author is storied.  Kit Reed has been writing science fiction and other fiction since the latter tip of the Eisenhower era.  She's done a lot of her best work in the 21st century.

I had her omnibus collection The Story Until Now out from the library recently, and this was one of my favorite stories from it.  It's got some very interesting story elements.  A premise that operates in a grey area - a twilight zone, if you will - between science and mysticism.  A not-too-sympathetic but understandable central figure with a tragic lack of understanding.  The story unwinds in a strange, hard-to-predict way.


susan said...

I can understand why this one was one of your favorites. Although the protagonist was pretty unsympathetic I found myself worrying he was falling into trouble deeper than he knew - especially when he went under the stage to find the black dog. When it turned out his ultimate destiny was to take on the dog's fate of pre-knowledge without being able to change the results he foresaw I learned I'd been more right that I'd guessed.

I thought it was interesting she chose the black dog as it has a long mythical history in England of appearing as either a protector or harbinger. It's also the phrase used there to describe depression.

Ben said...

Yes, there's a mixture of cold self interest along with vulnerability, the kind even the character might not recognize. I've read a little on the concept of the psychopomp. It's a heavy responsibility, even if the basic decisions are out of your hands.

I've heard of depression characterized as "the black dog" too. Winston Churchill used that metaphor, and he was something of a depressive. I think Led Zeppelin had something else in mind, though. :)