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Readings and Ramblings

This is Readings and Ramblings. It is readings because this is a site for blogging about books and I intend to do that. It is ramblings because I might want to write about something else now and then.


Watermind - M.M. Buckner There seems to be a small subgenre of science fiction in which pollution, garbage, sewage or some other disgusting substance forms itself into some kind of malevolent being. The one that comes most quickly to mind is the movie "Godzilla versus the Smog Monster." I think that many years ago I also read a comic book in which a garbage dump coalesced part of itself into a being called Garbage Man. These stories generally are severely lacking in verisimilitude. The premise is pretty absurd anyway. But then, a lot of premises in science fiction are pretty absurd. For that matter, all fiction is false. Otherwise, it wouldn't be fiction. The trick in giving it verisimilitude is in the author and the reader collaborating in allowing the reader to suspend his or her disbelief. The authors of this subgenre usually do not hold up their end of the collaboration. In other words, these stories are usually very poorly written. The best one that comes to my mind is "It" by Theodore Sturgeon. In that one the monster coalesces from the detritus of the forest floor. It is only a short story, though, and so it does not develop the character of the monster very fully nor the character of the others in the cast. "Watermind" is an exception to the usual in this subgenre. It is a story about the pollution that has been dumped into a Louisiana swamp forming an intelligence that, when attacked, defends itself by killing people. The human characters are well developed. There is a romantic subplot. The human protagonist is a young woman who knows her chemistry and who proceeds to analyse the monster in the water and to recognize it as a cognizant being. She actually develops an affection for it too. I liked the story. Nevertheless, throughout the novel I could not completely shake the feeling that I was watching a low budget science fiction movie from the 1950s.