Orion Reads
a diary of books etc.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

sixteen magical tales about the most wonderous of all creatures - UNICORNS!

Michelle found sixteen magical tales about the most wonderous of all creatures - UNICORNS!, edited by Jack Dann and Gardner Dozois in the uh dollar-bin at the library i think (except there's no library markings in it). It's a pretty mixed bag:
  • introduction by avram davidson: NO
  • The Silken Swift by theodore sturgeon: NO
  • Eudoric's Unicorn by L. Sprague De Camp: YES
  • The Flight of the Horse by Larry Niven: SURE, WHY NOT, REALLY
  • On The Downhill Side by Haral Ellison: NO! SCREW HARLAN ELLISON!
  • The Night of the Unicorn by Thomas Swann: YES
  • Mythological Beast by Stephen Donaldson: YES
  • The Final Quarry by Eric Norden: YES!
  • Elfleda by Vonda McIntyre: WHAT?? NO.
  • The White Donkey by Ursula LeGuin: OF COURSE, YES!
  • Unicorn Variantions by Roger Zelazny: NO
  • The Sacrafice by Gardner Dozois: NO
  • The Unicorn by Frank Owen: YES
  • The Woman The Unicorn Loved by Gene Wolfe: GOOD TRY BUT NO
  • The Forsaken by Ben Evans: YES
  • The Unicorn by T.H. White: YES!
  • Intoductions to Each Story by Dann and Dozois: NO!!
Well, that's the short and sweet. Most of the really good ones are pretty short.

Here, possibly surprisingly, is an excerpt from Eric Norden's The Final Quarry, which made me think perhaps i should go find more by this Eric Norden person. It's a bit weird and questionable re especially the whole Christian thing, but really you don't often find this much epicness so competently expressed in only one longish paragraph.

[scene, a murderous rogue asking after the location of the last U. from a classical filthy hermit wise-man in a cave]

"Listen to me, my son," the priest continued, the ancient words falling with liquid precision from his lips, "this beast you seek to slay is the last guardian of man's innocence. Unicorns live on thoughts of beauty, and the radiance of their sould has fallen like sunlight on the world for thousands of years, even before the Old Ones were dreamed into substance on Olympus." The priest's voice fell even lower and the mad eyes filmed with grief. "But the day Christ died on the cross the king of the Unicorns took it upon his race to suffer penance for the act, for otherwise God's wrath delivered on the heads of man would indeed have been terrible. And so on that day, while the heavens shook and the earth trembled on the brink of chaos, he ordered all the females of his race to die, and in great silver flocks they mounted the heights of Thessaly and threw themselves to death on the crags below, singing the ancient songs as they fell. Their voices reached the ear of God, and the tears of Christ rained upon Greece for three days and three nights, and beauty crept into the dreams of everyone."

He is mad, thought Deverish feebly, why does he keep looking at me, why does he not let me out into the sunlight ?

"Since then," the priest went on, "the remaining unicorns have died one by one, always by the violence of man's hand, because Christ in his love has spared them pain or illness or suffering or death, save that inflicted by his own tormentors. And with the death of each unicorn over the centuries, something of beauty, something of innocence, has gone out of the world, and a candle has been extinguished in the heart of every man, and the darkness has grown. This poor tired beast you plan to kill is the sole custodian of that ancient, guttering flame. When he is slain the last light of God's mercy is snuffed out, and even children's hearts shall become soiled, and wonder will die slowly, strangled until it becomes only a word, and innocence shall never return. A vast darkness hovers over the earth, peopled with the horrors of the apocalypse, and this beast is man's last solitary light. So God intended it and so it shall be. Go and destroy him."


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