The Fell Gard Codices

New Post at the Black Gate

November 5th, 2012

I just put up a new post at Black Gate, a look at Ursula Pflug’s intriguing collection After the Fires. I liked it quite a bit. And two things came out of writing the piece.

First, I noted that one of Pflug’s stories was first printed in an anthology called Album Zutique, a reference to a group of decadent poets in late 19th-century France (link en francais). It occurs to me to wonder whether the name was an inspiration for Clark Ashton Smith’s Zothique stories.

Second, in the course of trying to articulate how Pflug’s stories work, I suggested that they inhabit a kind of liminal space between surreality and fantasy. What I wanted to get at was a distinction between a fictional world with no apparent rules, fiction as hallucination or dream, and fiction that imagines a fantasy world that operates according to rules different than our own — but in which those rules are codified quite clearly. It’s an idea that strikes me as significant, though I’m not sure why. Perhaps it’s simply the idea that stories can be distinguished not only by the kinds of rules by which their worlds operate (fantasy, realism, science fiction), but by the amount of information or clarity the reader gets about those rules. This is something I shall be thinking about, I expect.

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