Thursday, January 24, 2019

Birthday Review: Short Fiction of David Gerrold

Today is David Gerrold's 75th birthday. He certainly is worthy of a birthday compilation of short story reviews -- so here goes:

Locus, September 2005

David Gerrold offers a pair of linked stories, "A Quantum Bit Exists in Two States Simultaneously", the first one "On", the second one "Off". Each story is built around a conversation between the narrator (who much resembles Gerrold), and Dan Goodman, Pope Daniel the First of the Church of the Chocolate Bunny. In the first, the Pope declares the narrator to be a saint, and the two debate the characteristics of sainthood. In the second, the two men discuss evil people, and how to deal morally with them – say, if you were a time traveler with a chance to kill Hitler before he did anything truly evil. The second story worked better for me, the ending in particular being clever and thought-provoking. (And for all that they are linked, each story can be read independently.)

Locus, April 2007

Also from the April F&SF, David Gerrold’s “The Equally Strange Reappearance of David Gerrold” follows from his January story, in which Gerrold encountered a curious alien – perhaps. Here he returns with a few others to the place in California where he found the alien, hoping to find out more. Which he does – perhaps, or perhaps not. It’s quite amusing – though oddly varied in tone – a tonal variance which actually rather works.

Locus, February 2013

F&SF's first 2013 issue is a solid one. ... David Gerrold offers a fine little horror story in “Night Train to Paris”, in which a writer on said train encounters a man who tells him a story about how people seem to go missing from this train fairly often.

Locus, July 2015

David Gerrold is a thoroughgoing professional storyteller, and “Entanglements”, from the May-June
F&SF, is a great example. It's engaging from the go, telling of a writer named David Gerrold and his 70th birthday and how Pesky Dan Goodman (“Peskydang”) ruined it, between the rented giraffe and his unique gift. This is very funny stuff, and then comes the gift, which is, it turns out, a way to learn about yourself in parallel universes. And, without forgetting to entertain, the story takes on some gravitas, as Gerrold learns (predictably enough, I suppose, but believably as well) that all choices come with consequences, good, bad, and just different.

Locus, November 2016

This month at F&SF we have the first of their Special Author issues in almost a decade, this one honoring David Gerrold. His contributions include two novellas and a short memoir, and Kristine Kathryn Rusch adds a nice essay. The novellas are both enjoyable, and quite different from each other, though neither is as good as Gerrold's best recent work. “The Further Adventures of Mr. Costello” continues the story of the eponymous “hero” of Theodore Sturgeon's “Mr. Costello, Hero”. Mr. Costello comes to Haven, a beautiful and not very crowded colony planet. He has a plan to get rich – and, he says, make a lot of other people rich – by herding the dangerous horgs into a place where they can be economically butchered. The narrator is newly married into a large family, with a couple of husbands and four wives, and a good business harvesting glitter bushes. But somehow they get inveigled into Costello's schemes. Costello's charisma and dangerous manipulativeness are well-depicted, and the science-fictional touches – the social organization of Haven, the ecological details – are nicely done as well; and there's a nice resolution. “The Dunsmuir Horror” is the continuing adventures of our author himself, in the form of a letter to Gordon van Gelder. This story is about a city in California that doesn't exist, due to a terrible history involving the massacre of Native Americans – or does it exist? It's amusingly told, as we expect, but it rambles a bit too much.

Locus, July 2018

Even better – one of the best novellas of the year to date – is “Bubble and Squeak” (Asimov's, May-June), by David Gerrold and Ctein. Bubble and Squeak are James Liddle and Hu Son, who are planning to get married this day, then head to Hawaii on their honeymoon. But they hear that there has been a major earthquake in Hawaii – so no honeymoon – and then they realize that the earthquake means a tsunami is heading to their home in Los Angeles. Which means they need to get to higher ground pronto. Fortunately, James is a SCUBA instructor, and they head out quickly on their bikes, and with what they can carry, including some SCUBA equipment. Of course, everyone else is heading for higher ground as well … The story is simply terrifically exciting, involving a plausible mix of heroism, foolishness, brutality, luck, and intelligence, on their part and others, as they struggle to find a way to a safe place, and as various options are closed off over time. Really exciting work.

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