Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mammoth Book of Fantasy (Cont.): The Platypus Reads Part CXXIV

Nets of Silver and Gold by James P. Blaylock

Blaylock gives us a piece that combines Harlon Ellison's minimalist fantasy with Theodore Sturgeon's "what if?" stories.  In so doing, it also fits in with Charles de Lint's penchant for writing fantasy in a pedestrian modern setting.  However, Blaylock adds a new twist in that he doesn't feel the need to explain the source or the meaning of the fantastic element.  It simply occurs, and we are left to guess its origin and import or else simply revel in the imaginative oddness of the tale.  I think the author would prefer that we do the latter over the former.  As del Torro reminds us when commenting on "Pan's Labyrinth," the old faerie stories never bother to explain the fantastic element; it's simply something that is.  G.K. Chesterton makes much of this in his essay The Ethics of Elfland, which serves as part of his larger autobiographical work "Orthodoxy," by saying that never really know the causal connection between any eventThus, it is nearer the mark to say that things happen by magic than that they happen by scientific law.  In this aspect, then, Blaylock's story recovers a bit of what the old fantasies do for us.  It reenchants the natural world around us by reminding us how little we grasp of the actual nature of things.  We don't know that there isn't a faerie world in the key hole, we bet on it, and betting means that occasionally we might be wrong. 

Next Up: The Phantasma of Q--- by Lisa Goldstein 

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