I write this short issue of The Nutmeg Point District Mail on the twenty-fifth anniversary of the death of Avram Davidson, or some twenty-five years since I first became a reader of his work. This past year I have been preoccupied with the writing of A Conversation larger than the Universe, and with preparations for the exhibition at the Grolier Club (details can be found at http://endlessbookshelf.net/Conversation2018.html). The book and the exhibition chart my readings and writings in science fiction, and of course Davidson was represented: I had copies of And Don’t Forget the One Red Rose on display. The books and letters and magazines in the show document many other friendships and connections to the field that have arisen from my interest in Davidson.
There is always something new to discover in Davidson's writings, whether reading for the first time or re-reading. There is at least one more substantial volume of stories that may some day be collected for publication, and there are several interesting fragments. Later this year I will begin making selections from the letters of Avram Davidson (rashly announced last year with too optimistic a deadline). And there is some nonfiction likely to reward further research. I thought that I had read most everything Davidson wrote while editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, but earlier this year I found a fascinating piece that I had overlooked, as well as some additional context.
CHANCE MEETING will be published by The Nutmeg Point District Mail in late June 2018 and is number five in the series of Publications of the Avram Davidson Society. CHANCE MEETING prints two uncollected pieces by Avram Davidson on Philip K. Dick: Davidson's perceptive review of The Man in the High Castle from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction for June 1963 and his memoir of PKD from Locus 256, vol. 15, no. 5, for May 1982. The publication also includes a letter from Grania Davis from the same issue of Locus; with a short essay by Henry Wessells assembling biographical and bibliographical information.
CHANCE MEETING will be produced in an edition of 150 unnumbered copies, stitched in Hahnemühle wrappers with letterpress label (6 x 9 inches, 16 pp.). Price : $20.00 (postage paid in U.S. ; elsewhere add $5.00). The publisher acknowledges the permission of Seth Davis and the Estate of Avram Davidson.
Details at http://avramdavidson.org/ChanceMeeting.html
A Correction to be Noted
Last summer I read Tom Shippey’s excellent collection of essays, Hard Reading. Learning from Science Fiction (Liverpool University Press, 2016). I read with great interest his discussion of The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896) as expressing "powerful contempt for a whole classical tradition of both language and literature" —science fiction as an assault on literary tradition. It is a favorite book, and one that Gene Wolfe has called "the ultimate science fiction novel."
At page 141, however, Shippey tells a story of a critic's assertion at a writing workshop that characters have to come alive from the first moment, at which a voice boomed out, "Marley was dead, stone-dead. To begin with." The speaker is incorrectly identified as Tom Disch.
This incident will be familiar to readers of Davidson, for it was he who long ago delivered that crushing retort at Milford. "A Spirit Touched My Lips," one of Davidson’s Adventures in Autobiography, was published in The New York Review of Science Fiction 114, vol. 10, no. 6, for February 1998. Mr. Shippey has graciously acknowledged that he had the incident at second hand, and has pledged to correct the mistaken identification in subsequent printings.
The Wailing of the Gaulish Dead, an Adventure in Unhistory
With a Preface by Eileen Gunn.
Published by The Nutmeg Point District Mail for the Avram Davidson Society, 8 May 2013.
Edition of 200 copies, perfect bound in heavy card covers, french flaps.
6 x 9 inches, viii + 40 pp. Inserted errata leaf.
Payment by cheque or money order in U.S. funds, or by credit card or paypal.
Price : $25.00 (postage paid in U.S. ; elsewhere add $10.00) ; £20 postpaid to U.K. (cash only). Trade discount available.
Michael Swanwick on The Wailing of the Gaulish Dead:
"a voyage through the mind of a brilliant autodidact, a man who engaged in
esoteric research not for profit or academic survival but simply for the fun of
it. Those who can enjoy such company on a journey with no obvious direction or
destination know who they are. [. . .] I witnessed a reader reach the end of
this essay and burst into delighted laughter."
The following titles are out of print:
The Beasts of the Elysian Fields by Conrad Amber (2001)
El Vilvoy de las Islas (2000)
The Last Wizard with A Letter of Explanation (1999)
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