To Please the Doctor
Doctor in Bondage
Jean S. MacLeod
The following ode was read by the author at the Centennial Anniversary of Burns in the year 1859.
This night shall never be forgot
For humble life none now despise,
Since Burns was born in lowly cot
Whose muses wing soars to the skies.
'Round Scotia's brow he wove a wreath
And raised her name in classic story
A deathless fame he did bequeath,
His country's pride, his country's glory.
He sang her hills, he sang her dales,
Of Bonnie Doon and Banks of Ayr,
Of death and Hornbook and such tales
As Tam O'Shanter and his mare.
He bravely taught that manly worth
More precious is than finest gold,
He reckoned not on noble birth,
But noble deeds alone extolled.
Where will we find behind the plow
Or in the harvest field at toil
Another youth, sweet bard, like thou,
Could draw the tear or raise the smile.
We do not think 'twas Burns' fault,
For there were no teetotalers then,
That Willie brewed a peck of malt
And Robin preed like other men.
'Tis true he loved the lasses dear,
But who for this would loudly blame,
For Scotia's maids his heart did cheer
And love is a true heavenly flame.
So here we've met in distant landFrom Poems of James McIntyre (Ingersoll, ON: Chronicle, 1889)
Poor honest Robin to extol,
Though oft we differ let us stand
United now in Ingersoll.
Venus! He let the word roll around in his mind and it was exciting, intellectual food, immensely stimulating to a mind shaped and trained as was his. Venus? For ages, the dreams of men had reached into the skies, immeasurably fascinated by the mind-staggering fact of other worlds, as vast as their own continents, seas, rivers, treasure beyond estimate. And now for him there was to be reality.This plain passage is atypical in that it is at least comprehensible. As in Bond parodies, van Vogt's villains reveal too much. Explanations are plentiful, advanced knowledge is imparted and secrets are spilled, but nothing the aliens say makes much sense:
"–the seventeenth x space and time manipulations... taking place sometime in the future... several years from now. Your spaceship either by accident or design caught up in the eddying current in the resulting time storm– Still no clue to the origin of the mighty powers being exercised."While readers may feel that they have missed something, fault lies wholly with the author who in his Reflections of A. E. van Vogt reveals that the novel was but one cobbled together from unrelated stories. The effort was, as he put it, "fix-up work". I suggest that "hack work" is more appropriate. I'll add that that grafting lifeless things to other lifeless things brings animation only in science fiction... and not with science fiction.
The three thousand books were recalled, small slips pasted over the offending passages and the copies then returned to retailers. Jack only learned of the potentially disastrous situation at the book's launch at the home of the book's editor Pamela Fry. He called her aside, told her the book would have to be recalled and acted quickly and decisively to prevent a lawsuit.According to King, Pamela Fry left M&S in for a position on a federal government task force. In his autobiography, Drawing on Type, designer Frank Newfeld places her c.1980 at the National Gallery of Canada. From there the trail grows cold.
I got sick and numb. There on that anvil of snow and ice I saw a big white bear, one such as you shall see within the Arctic Circle. His long nose fetching out towards the bleeding sun in the sky, his white coat shining. But that was not the thing — there was another. At the feet of the bear was a body, and one clawed foot was on that body — of a man.
There [sic] pages are clean except for some slight damp stain at the outside edge of some pages. The half-cloth binding has some staining mostly to the orange front paper cover. The corners are bumped, the spine is cocked, and there is a small tear to the crown of the binding. Webbing is exposed in the back."Reading copy" is the bookseller's summary. Surely not! At US$500 – a price I expect he'll get – his is a copy for the collector. This is a reading copy:
When he was told the solemn truth at last – that is he was about to die, was dying, in fact – Gumble embraced the knowledge with what remaining strength he had and went to sleep as peacefully as any child. In the morning he was dead.Gumble’s rest in peace ends abruptly when he returns to life at his own funeral. This resurrection raises all sorts of interesting questions: Is the widow Gumble still free to marry her true love, Mr Pound of the village of Wayne? What of all those creditors? Should they begin apportioning the man’s estate or would they be obliged to extend their loans?
“It’s a wise man that accepts the truth and acts before it is too late.”And so it goes. Things happen – often fantastic, usually amusing – but all is undercut by page after page of tiresome dialogue, more often than not instigated by Gumble himself:
“True enough,” replied Gumble, “true enough! But you have heard, perhaps, that it is a wise man who knows when to doubt.”
The vendor looked puzzled for a moment. “I have never heard that, my friend,” he retorted at last, “but I have heard that a fool can ask questions a wise man can’t answer. What is it you want to know?”
Gumble knew how to appreciate a witty turn even when he himself was the butt of it. “Very good, very good!” he laughed affably.
”You have heard it said, I am sure, that every dog must have his day.”The reader is relieved when, after 230 pages of this, Gumble succumbs to an accidental drug overdose. Dead for a second and final time, he takes in a sun that “had never shone so brightly”, and just keeps talking:
“You mean, perhaps, that by the same token we should let sleeping dogs lie,” laughed the widow.
“Very good!” Gumble declared and joined heartily in her laughter. “Very good, indeed!”
“And what do you make of it all my friend?” he asked the first wayfarer he met. “or are you good at riddles?”Thus endeth the novel.
“As for that –” quoth God, and was silent.