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Journal of No. 118


November 27th, 2015

The Revenant of Rebecca Pascal / Address: Centauri @ 09:44 am


The Revenant of Rebecca Pascal, by David Barker and Wilum Pugmire is a sequel and/or analogue of "The Thing on the Doorstep". Set in the modern day, the story revolves around the occult descendants of Asenath's coterie of diabolists. There are some enjoyable elements, but the novella is a bit uneven, I (perhaps unfairly) hypothesize because of a mismatch between the co-authors and the story. There are some delicious passages of fin de siècle decadence, but they are out of place when juxtaposed with cell phones and almond lattes. And if Lovecraft's protagonists are way too apt to fall into a faint, the narrator here is curiously blasé about the contraventions of the natural laws of the universe that go on around him. But still much to like, including Erin Wells' evocative interior art.




In contrast, there is little to like at all about Address: Centauri, by F L Wallace. I only hope I can ebay this Gnome Press edition to turn a literary failure into a financial success (for me). Perhaps I was too influenced by Boucher's review quoted on the Wiki page: "pretty lifeless fiction, in which both prose and characterization emerge directly from the machine, untouched by human hands." But I read 20 pages, skimmed 20 more, and then gave up. Definitely a strange idea -- in a future where medicine has eradicated all disease, and mankind is all beautiful and smart and able-bodied, there is an asteroid, nicknamed Handicap Haven, where the most severe 'accidentals' are kept, more or less humanely. Bodies so transformed by accidents (since disease is nonexistent) that even super-medicine can't completely fix them. So by hook or crook, a motley band of 'disabled' people break out. On paper, I can almost make it exciting and socially relevant. But it just isn't, as far as I can tell with as far as I got.

In some way, it does bring to mind a certain historical mindset. The book is from 1955, before the space program, but I think there was already this idea that we were going to send our best and brightest into the test jets and rocketships. And then there is a definite echo of that as well in PKD, say in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, where the best and brightest go to the offworld colonies to be saved, and the detritus left on a radioactive earth all look like Edward James Olmos.
 
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Journal of No. 118