Sunday, December 27, 2009

Forest Of Incandescent Bliss - Bud Webster

"And you know what? Most of these — check that, all of these — pale beside the finest writer the field has ever seen, the one against whom all others are never measured because it would be demonstrably unfair: Paul Myron Anthony Linebarger, known to his illustrious godfather (I'll get to it, don't worry) as Lin Bah Loh, or Forest of Incandescent Bliss, AKA Cordwainer Smith.

If I wanted to be all clever and post-modern, I'd deconstruct that pseudonym and tell you that "cord" not only refers to a woven strand, but a fabric made up of woven strands; that a "wain" is a wagon; and that a "smith" is a maker of things. I'd get one of those totally smug and supercilious little smiles on my mug and stretch those already-thin definitions to say something like "Cordwainer Smith wrote a wagon-load of intricately plaited and elaborately plotted stories." I might even get a grant.

But you don't need to pick apart the man's pen-name to know that. All you have to do is read any of the Instrumentality of Mankind stories, or his lone sf novel, Norstrillia, or, well, just about anything he wrote, really. But — and I'm not but about 12% facetious here — you do have to read him. There'll be a quiz even if I have to track you all down and come to your house."

4 out of 5

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