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Author Topic: Pseudopod 362: Go, Go, Go, Said The Bird  (Read 2815 times)
eytanz
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« on: December 01, 2013, 04:39:01 AM »

Pseudopod 362: Go, Go, Go, Said The Bird

by Sonya Dorman

“Go, Go, Go, Said The Bird” was originally published in 1967 in the Harlan Ellison edited, groundbreaking anthology DANGEROUS VISIONS. She said of this story “Perhaps I wrote (it) because sometimes that’s the way the world seems, or perhaps I hope that when my daughter’s generation grows up it won’t need or want to run for its life, or perhaps because, in the seventeenth century, Jeremy Taylor wrote: ‘…when it is enquired whether such a person be a good man or no, the meaning is not what does he believe, or what does he hope, but what he loves.’ Amen..”

SONYA DORMAN (1924- 2005) was the working name of Sonya Dorman Hess. She is perhaps best known outside of the world of science fiction as a poet, with some of her collections in this form being STRETCHING FENCE and A PAPER RAINCOAT. One of her poems, however, “Corruption of Metals”, received honors within science fiction circles by winning the Rhysling Award of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Her best-known work of science fiction is the story “When I Was Miss Dow”, which has been reprinted numerous times and received a James Tiptree, Jr. retrospective award nomination. She also wrote four books in the YA series ROXY RIMIDON OF THE PLANET PATROL. She said of herself “I have been a cook, receptionist, riding instructor, flamenco dancer and married. I like speculative fiction because I believe art and science should be lovers, not enemies or adversaries.”.

Your reader this week – Heather Welliver – recently read “Dancing” for Pseudopod, one section of Pseudopod 293: Flash On The Borderlands XII – (Black) Arts & (Dead) Letters. Her website can be found here and those needing her professionally for voice-work may examine her profile here.



“Think of it, she conversed in great gasps with herself, leaping over a crevasse where a southbound lane had split off from the main runway. Think of it, she insisted, scarcely having breath left but unable to control her mind, which was galloping faster than her weary legs.

I’m only thirty, I’m unique, there’s no one in this world, this universe, who is me, with my memories:”



Listen to this week's Pseudopod.


Copyright (c) 1967, 1995 by the Literary Estate of Sonya Dorman; first appeared in DANGEROUS VISIONS edited by Harlan Ellison; used by permission of the Estate and the Virginia Kidd Agency, Inc.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2013, 04:57:23 PM by eytanz » Logged
Fenrix
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« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2013, 05:04:02 PM »

This is one of the few stories out of Harlan Ellison's "Dangerous Visions" that does not appear to have been anthologized elsewhere. I think it's because it skews away from science fiction towards horror. It may also be because Dorman is not a "big name" in genre fiction. That being said, this was the story in that collection that hit me the hardest and stuck with me. Dangerous Visions is worth picking up, as there's a lot of great stuff in there. It was designed as a collection of shocking and tabooed stories that would struggle to get published due to content (not due to quality). A handful have not aged well and are as obvious in their taboo nudging as Marilyn Manson, but there are more great stories than not.

A special thank you to Vaughne Hansen at the Virginia Kidd Agency for being exceptionally responsive and professional, and setting the bar for interaction with an estate.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #2 on: December 02, 2013, 11:21:39 AM »

Does anyone know what the significance of the title is?  I know it was from a quote from the bit at the beginning, but am not really sure what that quote has to do with the story.

Definiitely dark.  I cringed at the breaking of the baby's neck--not surprising since I am a little too close to that time, having a 7 month old at home, to be unaffected by it.  It was obvious early on that she was going to die, but I did not expect it to be her own family who did it, so that was something unexpected at least.


Overall, I felt like I should have been more affected by the story than I was.  I'm not entirely sure why.  I think it just felt too... what's the word...  not "false" exactly.  Not "unnatural", either.  Too "staged", perhaps?  It never ceased to feel like a series of things specifically set up to try to emotionally affect me, but I never stopped seeing the set dressing, or something.  Kind of a similar thing to a lot of sappy Resnick stories, I guess--they either work and succeed in steering my emotions, or they don't and I can't stop seeing the emotional plot points for what they are rather than being affected by them.

I admit I did get annoyed with the protagonist as she kept on telling herself that she was such a special and unique flower that she couldn't possibly die.  In a harsh and unforgiving world that she lived in, where people knowingly eat each other with little care for whether their fodder is unique, got on my nerves that she spent her energy declaring in her mind how special she was.  It's possible that that alone was what drove me away from getting more into it--the story would've been better with that element gone and it could've kept everything that made it really effective..
« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 11:24:24 AM by Unblinking » Logged
Sgarre1
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« Reply #3 on: December 02, 2013, 01:08:39 PM »

Special thanks to Alex Hofelich for getting this story onto the show.  I was very proud to present it.

Burnt Norton (1935) T.S. Eliot

    Time present and time past
    Are both perhaps present in time future
    And time future contained in time past.

    What might have been and what has been
    Point to one end, which is always present.
    Footfalls echo in the memory
    Down the passage which we did not take
    Towards the door we never opened
    Into the rose-garden. My words echo
    Thus, in your mind.
    But to what purpose
    Disturbing the dust on a bowl of rose-leaves
    I do not know.

    Go, said the bird, for the leaves were full of children,
    Hidden excitedly, containing laughter.
    Go, go, go, said the bird: human kind
    Cannot bear very much reality.
    Time past and time future
    What might have been and what has been
    Point to one end, which is always present.


(there's more, of course):

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Four_Quartets

"human kind
    Cannot bear very much reality"

would seem to be the resonance - a truth that underlies all horror fiction.  Move, while you can.  Live, while you can, in the moment.  The truth of life (in this case, the truth of hunger, although one could say the truth of family and civilization) will destroy you if pondered on for too long.  "The idea of time and the concept that only the present moment really matters because the past cannot be changed and the future is unknown"


I felt the "I am a unique person" details were there not only to underline that it is a life and death situation (I imagine nowadays a lot of young people unexpectedly dying on a street somewhere under suddenly harsh sunlight will have last thoughts like "but, this can't be happening - the new PORTAL hasn't even come out yet...") but also as an indicator of a generational difference between her and her children (who are more pack like).  It's conceivable (not provable, given the dearth of detail in the story) that this attitude is also intended as indicating a holdover from pre-collapse - perhaps culturally taught or personally known - "our" way of thinking that, of course, will not survive in this brave new world as the next generation devolves down.

Or perhaps it's already started and we didn't need a collapse ("of this magnitude", he qualifies)?
« Last Edit: December 02, 2013, 01:22:54 PM by Sgarre1 » Logged
Jen
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2013, 04:09:57 AM »

I read Dangerous Visions 2 years ago and I didn't even remember this story existed! What's more surprising is that I really loved it in audio form. Maybe because it had a great narrator? A story with a woman being abused will always resonate with me (and make me really glad to live in the 21st century), and I liked the voice of this particular woman. I am also very curious about her world - all we got were hints. Is this the future after some kind of catastrophe? Is this the past? Did I imagine the fact that she had white blood and that the world looked like a negative? (Or was that a metaphor I missed? I sometimes lose focus on the audio if I'm driving.)
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Fenrix
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« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2013, 08:05:32 AM »

I took this story as being set in a dark post-apocalyptic future. The why of the collapse is irrelevant because the story is an exploration of the devolution of society. It hit me just like The Road, with the major difference of this story being good. And having grammar. The Road had a couple of amazingly effective horror scenes, but this story captures all of that in a much more compressed space.
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albionmoonlight
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« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2013, 04:15:29 PM »

Overall, I felt like I should have been more affected by the story than I was.  I'm not entirely sure why.  I think it just felt too... what's the word...  not "false" exactly.  Not "unnatural", either.  Too "staged", perhaps?  It never ceased to feel like a series of things specifically set up to try to emotionally affect me, but I never stopped seeing the set dressing, or something.  Kind of a similar thing to a lot of sappy Resnick stories, I guess--they either work and succeed in steering my emotions, or they don't and I can't stop seeing the emotional plot points for what they are rather than being affected by them.

I agree.  I could tell what the story was trying to do, but I felt like I was outside of it watching the whole time instead of inside getting caught up in it.
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #7 on: December 06, 2013, 06:31:01 AM »

I could tell what the story was trying to do, but I felt like I was outside of it watching the whole time instead of inside getting caught up in it.

I almost feel like that is the point. 

Also, I couldn't get this bit of Seuss out of my head while listening:

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

Until you get eaten, that is.
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Sir Postsalot
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« Reply #8 on: December 06, 2013, 09:28:31 AM »

I could tell what the story was trying to do, but I felt like I was outside of it watching the whole time instead of inside getting caught up in it.

I almost feel like that is the point. 

If that's true then, um, I guess it succeeded for me?  Though keeping me distanced from a story is a good way to make the story unmemorable.
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cvasilevski
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« Reply #9 on: December 11, 2013, 09:53:11 PM »

My interpretation of this story is that this is a post-apocalyptic setting that's been going on for a while, and that the cannibalism has been institutionalized. The main character, who has benefited from the privileges of that institution (she's a chief man's wife and a chief man's daughter, and thus somewhat insulated from having her own family be cannibalized until things get REALLY bad) is just happy to have the status quo maintained until it's turned on her.

I'm seeing her flight through a "we are the 99%" lens - people in power believe that they're special or singular because circumstances have allowed them to avoid the s*** that most others have to deal with on a daily basis - "wait a minute, this can't happen to ME, I'm SPECIAL." Once the tables are turned, they feel fear - but it's a fear highly mixed with both guilt and denial.
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evrgrn_monster
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« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2013, 10:44:05 PM »

This one didn't do much for me. I did actually recently get done rereading The Road (I don't know why I wanted to reread it, all I want to do is cry forever afterwards), so that may have had quite a bit to do with why this story didn't work for me, as the feelings were pretty similar. The difference with this story was my level of involvement and connection to the character; I didn't particularly care what happened to this woman; I didn't see her really loving or sacrificing for anyone, so the idea of her dying didn't really bother me.

The narration was fantastic, which actually tipped this story over from boring to actually worth listening to. When she screams out to her son, I actually got goosebumps.
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Varda
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« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2013, 09:32:23 AM »

Man, this was such a great story. I'd forgotten the "Four Quartets" reference, so many thanks to Shawn for posting that - a trip down memory lane, and an old favorite poem. The T.S. Eliot reference is quite appropriate for such a dark story.

My interpretation of this story is that this is a post-apocalyptic setting that's been going on for a while, and that the cannibalism has been institutionalized. The main character, who has benefited from the privileges of that institution (she's a chief man's wife and a chief man's daughter, and thus somewhat insulated from having her own family be cannibalized until things get REALLY bad) is just happy to have the status quo maintained until it's turned on her.

I'm seeing her flight through a "we are the 99%" lens - people in power believe that they're special or singular because circumstances have allowed them to avoid the s*** that most others have to deal with on a daily basis - "wait a minute, this can't happen to ME, I'm SPECIAL." Once the tables are turned, they feel fear - but it's a fear highly mixed with both guilt and denial.

This largely captures that I thought as well. The story also reminded me about how, thanks to the way our bodies and brains work, we're each the hero of our own story in a sense that we perceive everything as it relates to us. This seemed to be a story about that moment when you realize that being your own protagonist doesn't mean squat to the universe, which seems to operate more like George R. R. Martin than Tolkien in the way it assigns pointless ends for lives that were otherwise rife with meaning. Good stuff.
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