The Sorrows of Young Werewolf (eyeteeth) wrote,
The Sorrows of Young Werewolf
eyeteeth

Fun with your new stix



"Death will annihilate my ego" is a line I've used before. It has stuck in my mind ever since I read it in a science fiction story as a teenager. Actually, the phrase in the story is "disgraceful sweating panic when at night he considered how death would annihilate his ego," and I can say that with confidence even though I haven't read the story in well over twenty years, because we now live in the future and all I had to do was search the Internet for "would annihilate his ego" and lo: it is a 1957 story called "Journeys End" by Poul Anderson, and you can find it in its entirety if that's something you care to do. It's a sad story, and, like many of the stories that have stuck with me from childhood, it's largely about isolation. I have a beat-up and jacketless volume of Tom Disch from about the same era in my life as the volume containing the Anderson (possibly the same sidewalk sale), and that's what every single thing he writes seems to be about too. I bought the book because of its name, Fun with Your New Head, and was unsurprised to hear in 2008 that Disch had committed suicide. The primary catalyst for his act seems to have been depression following the death of his life partner, which is doubleplusunsurprising in a guy whose writing shows a romantic horror of solitude. There's a story in Fun with Your New Head called "The Number You Have Reached," of which the protagonist is the last person on Earth because he was the pilot of the vehicle that dropped the bomb that killed everyone else. And then he starts getting phone calls. Another one, "The Squirrelcage," is narrated by a guy who's stuck in a locked room with nothing but a typewriter and a feeding tube and can't remember how he got there.

My point is, it's funny what sticks with you, isn't it? Science fiction has never even been my genre, but the Disch stuck with me, and this fairly obscure 1957 short story stuck with me, and you never know. I love that, that you never know. That's why you have to try to do good things, because you never know what will stick, or where.
Tags: poul anderson, stix, thomas disch, writing
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