New Short Fiction Post – Ross Rocklynne: Oh the 50’s

It’s Sunday. Which means you get to hear me blather on about some piece of short fiction I read this week.  If it’s any consolation, this week’s pick is free . . . and old school Science Fiction. So if you’re into either of those two things, I’d keep reading.

What? It's sci-fi gotta have a saucer.

What? It’s sci-fi gotta have a saucer.

The story this week is Ross Louis Rocklin’s (pen name: Ross Rocklynne) Sorry: Wrong Dimension. In terms of plot, this story didn’t have a huge amount of anything going on, so I don’t know how much I’ll actually be spoiling by telling you what happens (I think this was supposed to be more a piece that made you think. It does to varying degrees/definitions of thinking. Mostly it was cute). So here’s a basic outline:

— The narrator, Mrs. Weaver, and her neighbor/friend (not sure which of these is a better way to describe her) are sitting out on the front porch getting some much needed R&R. Mrs. Weaver is commenting, if not bragging, about how her child (called Baby throughout the story. Weird?) has been quite all day. She’s had time to do the ironing, clean, even catch up on three episodes of some detective serial that she enjoys. No small feat in the life of your 1950’s housewife.

–That’s when it hits her. Maybe something is wrong with Baby! And that’s why he’s been so good! Stranger things have happened . . . well not yet they haven’t.

–Mrs. Weaver and Mabel (the neighbor/friend) go inside to check on baby and find that he’s playing happily by himself with not a care in the world. Slowly they realize he’s not playing by himself. Baby tugs on his pacifier and something tugs back. Monster? An invisible monster? . . . Yes and yes. Call Harry right away! He’ll know what to do. No wait don’t call Harry, his boss will be pissed. Screw it call Harry!

–Mrs. Weaver picks up the phone and asks for Harry’s work and gets quite a strange reply: “Sorry. You must have the wrong dimension.” And then click. Well that’s the end of that. Only of course it isn’t. Mrs. Weaver (who I’m now remembering is named Stella) calls back, explains the situation and two gents show up at the door. Apparently, they were only ten years away. I suppose that’s no time at all.

–These guys agree to take the monster away from the house and proposition the two ladies (did I mention it was the 50’s). Stella gets wise and tells them to leave, that she’s decided to keep Baby’s Monster (called a Drinko). Finally the real cops show up, well the real inter-dimensional cops but the two gents (now proven crooks) are long gone. However, Stella is able to provide the dimension police enough information that they the crooks are caught and the day is saved. As a reward, Stella gets to keep the Drinko for Baby, and Mabel made it home with enough time to get dinner in the oven for her hubby. If that’s not a victory, I’m not sure what is.

Of course I imagine all housewives from the 50’s to look like this!

Anyway, what I find so fascinating about all of this is the way it depicts the 50’s and more specifically, housewives in the 50’s. For some reason I’m just obsessed with their plight. How terrible it must have been to live in a suburban neighborhood during this time. All of the juggling of responsibility. The managing and micro-managing but without any real say. And of course, the times were changing. Old ways of thinking about women in the household are making less and less sense. New technology is making things easier and more efficient, but also more uncertain and frightening. Mabel reacts to discovering the monster:

“Stella,” she said, with a quiver of that good-looking short upper lip of hers, “we’re trapped in. We’re in the middle of some kind of fantasy. It’s a crazy world we’re living in, Stella. A-bombs and H-bombs and flying saucers and space-flight–it’s all the fiction stuff coming true. Now we’re lost in some other dimension and I have to get dinner in the oven.

I’m not sure what to think is silly in all of this. Part of me thinks it is appropriate to point out that Rocklin (I found a list of his published works and a bio from wikipedia) is a male writer and if the general press about this time period is to be believed, than it’s possible that he’s quite mysoginistc and displaying women in what he feels is a comical and subversive light. Or he could be in on it and satirizing the time. Poking fun at the stereotype of women during that time. Or he could be trying to reflect what he feels is a genuine problem. That these women are trapped in a world they don’t understand and there only solace is to think about the things they understand like cooking and what’s best for Harry Jr.

There is another story, The Heat Death of the Universe, by Pamela Zoline which reflects a similar melt down. It’s more dramatic, and the tie-ins with actual science really elevate the emotion you feel at the end. Of course, Science Fiction isn’t the only mode of story telling that tells this story. We see it in Mad Men (I mean really. I already gave you January Jones’ picture) and it’s again reflected in music as well (check out the Rolling Stones link below).

Just seems to keep coming up. Anyway, if you haven’t read Sorry: Wrong Dimension you can pick it up free on Project Gutenberg here. I’d definitely also check out Pamela Zoline’s The Heat Death of the Universe which is here. I think it definitely helps get to what I’m trying to say, even if I can’t get there. Oh and here’s The Rolling Stones:


Orcs, Bears, and Assholes!

So here’s the deal. It’s probably been about a month or so since I posted, and it’s simply time to get back on the horse. I’m weeks behind on my Archer posts and haven’t watched The Americans in a few weeks either so . . . what to post about.

Another book review? Takes too long. Trying to post each week. Can’t finish a book in a week and do everything else at the same time.

Start a new TV series and try to post about that? Ugh too inflexible with the scheduling. Always have to watch when I’m free and then usually am not free afterwards to write. So when am I free?

Sundays. There are a bunch of good shows on Sundays. The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones is coming back soon. And Mad Men!! But all of those shows have had multiple seasons and to try to do another recap series is probably not the way to go.

I’ve been reading John Scalzi’s serial every tuesday, but it looks like Ron Hogan has already got the lock on that. (He does some good posts about The Human Division and has got a lot of insider info which is nice.)

But that doesn’t mean I can’t do something similar. There aren’t any other serials around that I know of to review but . . . I could still review short fiction each week and it probs wouldn’t take that long for me to do.

So that’s what this post is. My first short fiction review!! Ok don’t get too excited. The story is called Orcs, Bears, and Assholes and it’s by Robert Bevan. Intriguing title right? Just wait until I tell you the premise. It’s about a couple of kids who end up inside a role playing game (I’m assuming this all has something to do with D&D. He sets up the whole thing in another story called Critical Failures which I haven’t read yet but certainly plan to) and have to survive the game. In this short, our friends Cooper, Julian, Dave and Tim realize that the treasure map they’ve been following is completely bogus. When they try to make their way back to town, they are warned about a pack of orcs blocking the road and robbing travelers. Since they need to use the road, they are gonna have to face the orcs, but believe me when I say that they are certainly trying to avoid it at all costs. Oh and a bear shows up, and they run into a group jerks who tell them to get lost as the group tries to help (god what assholes right?).

Anyway, the whole thing unfolds in a pretty hilarious way with most of the humor coming from applying some of the sillier aspects of role-playing games to real life. I always hoped that somebody would apply this type of thing to literature and finally I’ve found a good example of it. I’m sure there are more but this one was especially comedic. Plus, it’s only 99 cents on Amazon, so no skin off your back if you end up not liking it. But I think you will.

Anyway, this week’s short, incase you missed it, is Orcs, Bears, and Assholes by Robert Bevan. Go read it. And then come back next Monday for the next short (my free time is on Sunday so this ain’t getting posted til Monday). Also, sorry for being a little link happy this week. Just trying it out. Anyway. Laters!