8 thoughts on “Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction #44

  1. Black Sun – Douglas Thompson
    …if free will has ever really existed anyway, that is.”
    Here, no doubt fortuitously but tellingly, we have rocks involuntarily un-piling themselves, after those earlier walls of deliberately piled rocks in the Phillips story. This story as a whole presents a jawdropping vision of a planet – where humans have been living – and, piecemeal, as if – now in reverse – losing the planet’s equivalent to that gestalted ‘Howardness’ leitmotif by leitmotif, rock by rock, where such a ‘debris stream’ (compare and contrast: Iain Banks’ last novel: “…ancient rocks are sent hurtling from the deep to the surface of the earth…”) heads toward the planet’s now Black Sun….
    This story is an absolutely incredible read both as a singularity in itself and in the context of this book, and, when coupled with the characters’ artfully delineated backstories, it reaches a height of poignancy in the story’s ‘real world’ as well as in the main protagonist’s dreams. And there is also perhaps another circular ‘suicide’.
    Whenever I read a Douglas Thompson story, I feel as if I am looking through a fiction-microscope where physically beautiful words of all lengths and mineral or jellyfish or orchid qualities shimmer or prick one into a special magic reality, then miraculously turning such microscopic visions into a vast macroscopic imaginarium that one can ‘bank’ as if within some accreting noumenon-sump that is somewhere inside yourself even if you do not always consciously remember the process.

  2. Milo on Fire – Ross Gresham
    Pages 64 – 77
    “Airlocks opened. Fuel pumped over floors and ignited. Reactors spun backwards. That was the pattern: suicides with flair.”
    ‘S no crime…
    to kill oneself, I guess. To become deliberately deployed ‘cannon fodder’ for some more high-gear Gresham far future stuff, what I once called Friendly Fire SF, some of which I read in a previous TQF. This is hilarious. Sporks and Sphincters. Characters fuddle amateurishly with grandiose plans to face the dangers of the universe, plans that often go wrong or accidentally go right and drink tea and use simulator Hoods where one can pull the opposite sex as well as pull rank in and around the far future where we humans as we are then meet the first aliens – Frogs – that get in contact via the default translator lady. Another story of laid-back Milo that had me rolling in the aisles but also stretching my brain to encompass the gestalt swelling out into vast contraptive mash-ups of the ‘elaborate mnemonics’ of Gresham’s hyper-angular prose process followed by an envisaged endgame thing-in-itself. My Noumenon-sump is itching for more… But not till tomorrow, or maybe sooner or later, but real aliens having now been sighted in a period after my death can alter the course of humanity, even retrocausally, and how can an honest reader like me now have any free will at all? Brainstorming…

  3. image

    Pages 77 – 87
    “I’d forgotten how still the man could be. He sat so still that he projected stillness.”
    For many years I have been using the expression (check google!) ‘chasing the noumenon’ to mean something to which, until now, as enlightened by Gresham’s work, I had not truly understood. Reviewing such work as this is indeed a form of retrocausality, as we play in the wild sandbox of fiction, reaching, like TS Eliot, toward its still centre, its rose garden. Milo is a far future form of a catering worker become spy or traitor, or so they think, him having been the one the ‘Frogs’ contacted via the default translator. A sock puppet or beta moon or a redaction of some of this fiction or a scum scrum or a misunderstood meaning of ‘think tank’ or a Leiberesque visit to Farther Fafhrd or long moustaches to make a character seem more than a cipher or meaningless mission statements, this is not only great fantasy for fantasy’s sake, but something else, the still centre of which I have not reached. A bit like crystallising the whole crazy Internet into a beta pre-big bang nugget of existence.
    “He smelled, literally, like a tube of marmite paste split open and smeared all over his body. That was the natural smell of his sweat.”

  4. Pages 87 – 95
    …and raced them up and down the aisles. Unbelievable noise, racing inside a building, with the metal walls. The carts ran ancient internal-combustion engines, hammering like machine-guns with endless belts of ammo. And the crashes!” … a Wilkinson-Ashley combo in this wild Greshambles of a strident Heath Robinson land with a now literal ‘sandbox’ as they test their weapon-interface with the ‘Frogs’. ‘They’ including Milo and his old mate from the previous Friendly Fire Fiction that I read by Gresham – and fuddling Admirals et al, who believe, inter alia, that wearing jaunty hats helps against the Frogs’ mind war. Still it’s not all mind war or metal war, it’s something combining both, and there seems to be something very significant in my process-as-noumenon theory about this book’s fiction when we learn that the Frogs’ spaceships are designed in the physical form of the Frogs themselves! (Not that the Frogs are as you and I understand frogs to be). I can’t do justice to all the ‘inventions’ in this novella, you just need to read it.
    “You see, the world is not peace broken by rare accidents. The world is riot. And calm is probably an illusion,…” — “…tell me about god.” — “…it was pretty clearly we were a ceremonial suicide force.” — “…all five ambassadors dropped dead in the sand.”

  5. Pages 95 – 110
    “… sea plants played by invisible currents.”
    …Douglas Thompson’s fiction-microscope of beautiful words often also giving ugly meaning …and the Frogs are thus Jungian by not only mind but also by body and even body-part like a finger, an amazing Gresham concept, forming a cloud (cf an jnternet ‘cloud’) of impulses, their own Noumenon, when ‘befriended’ by killing fire, and no wonder free will finds it difficult to defeat determinism in this cloud, this fog of war…
    And Colclough, a female, becomes the required band member for Howard Phillips and the Saturation Point, the positive quota that completes this book’s gender gestalt, like those rules these days for memberships of any groups. But it is the Jungian impulse of this book’s suicide theme that is the selfless Process that clinches the book’s Noumenon through Colclough … As poignantly as it is possible amid the riot. The rose garden. There is even Thompson’s ‘debris process’ “in the air like bad weather” amid the ‘Psychic Grappling’.
    But the Gresham novella stands aside and is what it is: a spinradio of self fighting self as well as unself (navy versus army as well as versus Frogs) in a cloud of friendly and unfriendly fire. Also it is, for me, a new and original ‘War With The Newts’ (see my review of that book HERE) as well as the creation of great characters like Milo, Marmite and those with jaunty hats in the fray of battle.


  6. Pingback: Three reviews… | Douglas Thompson's Blog

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s