The Dead Lady of Clown Town

… excerpted from The Rediscovery of Man, by Cordwainer Smith:

… Said little Joan… “I bring you life-with. It’s more than love. Love’s a hard, sad, dirty word, a cold word, an old word. It says too much and it promises too little. I bring you something much bigger than love. If you’re alive, you’re alive. If you’re alive-with, then you know the other life is there too — both of you, any of you, all of you. Don’t do anything. Don’t grab, don’t clench, don’t possess. Just be. That’s the weapon. There’s not a flame or a gun or a poison that can stop it.”

9 thoughts on “The Dead Lady of Clown Town”

  1. Hey, Max!

    Well, like a lot of science fiction, it’s a series of short stories. In this case, they were written over 15 years or so, so some are definitely better than others. Nonetheless, the overall book is great, despite the occasional 50s descent into sexism and racism.

    The stories span thousands upon thousands of years and represent a huge history of cultures. It’s certainly interesting. My only regret is that the stories are in order of internal chronology, rather than order of publication, which means that sometimes things are obviously supposed to be hints that have already been explained.

  2. hello,

    i’ve just finished to re-re-re-read Shock: and i was just “hey, i’ll check his blog should i ?”

    and then, there is that quote of cordwainer smith.

    he is one of my “auteur de chevet”, just had to say it 🙂

  3. …I don’t speak French, but I sure hope that means that you keep his books by the side of your bed, and not that you sleep with the corpse of a 40-years-dead author.

  4. She got the which of what-she did,
    Hid the bell with a blot, she did,
    But she fell in love with a hominid.
    Where is the which of the what-she-did?

    From the Ballad of Lost C’mell

  5. Somebody gave me On the Gem planet and the two Norstrilia paperbacks when I was a kid. I’ve been hooked on science fiction ever since.

    Unfortunately, a literate (one might hope) thief broke into my apartment years later and among other things, made off with all of my books including many first editions as well as my cherished leather bound lord of the rings.

    I search used bookshops for years to replace my Cordwairner Smith. Most never heard of him.

    I was thrilled when the reprinted all of the short stories in The Rediscovery Of Man and Norstrilia in its novel form.

    1. Yeah, he was recommended to me with some frequency for a while. Now I’m reading The Rediscovery of Man and was struck by the perception he showed in the above quote.

      That’s not to say that some of it isn’t really sexist and racist. But, well, he *was* a white SF writer in the 50s working for the US Government. He could have been writing some sort of military, Kill the Commie Gooks kind of stories (of which there’s *kinda* one in TRoM). Instead, he seems acutely aware of the changes in cultural weather that move culture time and again.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *