Thursday, December 20, 2007


The February ASIMOV'S arrived in the mail, with my short-short "Sex and Violence." A few hours later (he's speedy), Michael Swanwick sent me an email pointing out that my story and his in the same issue, "From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled," both "feature aliens speaking the same language!" He's right about this. Both of us resorted to the device of using brackets or parentheses or other punctuation around terms that, hypothetically, are too alien to have equivalents in English. Thus, from my story:

[Mghzl] [sighed]. "Begin an [official investigation] into the spore release. And send an [extermination/cleanser/cover-up team]."

From Michael's:

::We will lead you to the jungle and no further (hopefully-to-die) [treacherous non-millipede]::

This is not a new idea for either of us. Theodore Sturgeon did it in his 1955 story "The [Widget], the [Wadget], and [Boff]". I read that story (in reprint) when I was fifteen; it was among the first SF I ever read (nothing like starting at the top). When Michael and I steal this mechanism, it's an act of homage, although neither of us use it with quite the straight face that Sturgeon, in a more innocent time, did.

And Michael's story is very good. I recommend it.

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