nullimmortalis December 8, 2014 at 3:49 pm
OUR DISTANT COUSINS by Lord Dunsany
“There certainly had been an outbreak of disbelief.”
Another story about Jorkens via the narrator but the tale itself is told by a third party as brokered by Jorkens (cf: the brokering of evils to be bartered between customers in an earlier story). I have long seen fiction making as a pecking order: freehold author – leasehold narrator – sub-leasehold characters etc. The fiction maker (travelling to Mars by aeroplane partially dependent on the Earth going a thousand miles an hour as we stand on it and then many outlandish events with human-like people (one of whom the traveller from Earth fancies) kept in a chicken-run and octopoid beasts that eat them and then the traveller making a half stop on the way home on the asteroid Eros and much else) is called Terner, or as the freeholder probably intended to indicate, by anagram: re-rent…
And that’s what we do, rent the story at each remove to enhance truth at or from a distance. But there is an elephant in the room about this story. Or should I say ‘an elephant bursting out of a matchbox’. The sub-leased Narrator’s silent collusion with the reader beyond the whole pecking-order that he finds himself in. A fine mesh.
Above is my previous review of the next Fontana story in the 2014 context of reading it here: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/in-the-land-of-time-lord-dunsany/#comment-3633
There can be no sane reason why Aickman would include this wild Jules Verne-inspired SF ‘tall story’ in an anthology such as this one, I guess! Even with the story’s arguable Swiftian morals, fables and horrific allegories for humankind’s loves, lives and scepticism!
The storyteller travels from Earth to Mars and then to the asteroid Eros and back again to Earth as the re-Terner, his travels being based on his brainstorming as well as his calculated trajectories and gravities…
But then, suddenly, I had a frisson of haunted synchroncity with my own tall story I must tell you, one that is completely true and checkable with dated BBC broadcast archives. As I re-read this story this morning, IT’LL BE ME by Cliff Richard and the Shadows was featured about twenty minutes into the Radio 2 programme on today’s edition of Tony Blackburn’s ‘Sounds of the 60s’, and the song contained these lyrics:
If you see something shooting out across the stars
If you see a rocket ship on its way to Mars
Baby it’ll be me
I’ll be lookin’ for you
‘It’ll be very unlikely that you will be seeing a rocketship going to Mars! Hahaha!’ — was Tony B’s spoken reaction to it!
And then, with another frisson of being haunted, I noticed these words in the Dunsany story itself that, in some miraculously uncanny way, suits the gestalt of this anthology so far….
My previous reviews of Lord Dunsany: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2014/11/21/in-the-land-of-time-lord-dunsany/
Full context of above: https://dflewisreviews.wordpress.com/2021/03/25/the-2nd-fontana-book-of-great-ghost-stories/