A blog by the staff of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library
Saturday Shorts Week 3
Welcome to our new weekend series for 2014. Every Saturday this year one of our staff will suggest a favorite short story from the library’s collection, all of them a great choice for quick weekend reading.
“You spin in the sky, the world spins under you, and you step from land to land, while we…” She turned her head right, left, and her black hair curled and uncurled on the shoulder of her coat. “We have our dull, circled lives, bound in gravity, worshiping you!”
I’ve always found this story thrilling, even though not much actually happens in it’s dozen pages. Samuel R. Delany quickly creates a troubling future world, populates it with a couple of fascinating characters who have a brief but revealing conversation, and then he just shuts the door on us. Somehow it makes for a near perfect SF tale.
It was one of Delany’s first published short stories and it appeared as the conclusion to Harlan Ellison’s famous 1967 anthology Dangerous Visions. Even among that collection of contentious stories, “Aye, and Gomorrah…” stands out as the most controversial.
It takes place in a future where “spacers” are chosen in their youth, promptly neutered, and then sent, sexless and confused, to work among the stars. When back on earth they’re a rough and tumble society unto themselves. They spend most of their time here seeking the attention of “frelks,” a class of sexual deviant usually willing to pay for the companionship of a spacer. Our story follows a once male spacer and a female frelk who can’t seem to work out this simple relationship. She refuses to pay and, while he craves the attention as much as she does, he just can’t understand how to accept it without the quid pro quo.
The couple’s obvious attraction to one another and their inevitable disconnect is a sad story, really, but oddly romantic too.
Check out Dangerous Visions if you want to see what I mean. The book is stuffed with other great stories by the likes of Philip K. Dick, Frederick Pohl, Robert Bloch, J.G. Ballard, etc. There’s hardly a dud among them.
Review by Matthew