The ED SF Project

The Ellen Datlow/SCI FICTION Project, that is. We're showing the love for five and a half years of great short fiction, and we need your help! We've got over 300 stories to cover, so if you're a person who loves short speculative fiction, we want you. Go here to read the list and add your voice.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

"Transfer" by Barry Malzberg: An Appreciation by Keith Ferrell

"Transfer," from late in Malzberg’s early career, reminds us that he entered the field a fully-formed master still capable of growth, and as the still-new new work he has produced (some of it appearing on SCI FICTION) reminds us he is still growing.

And still a master and maestro, the most musical of sf writers, now as then, when "Transfer" first was published. The story retains its music, as well as its power and its art, shocking still and still horrifying--as strong on the Web today as in the pages of Fantastic three decades ago. So much of that power is encapsulated--or, better, enabled--by the story's voice that it is easy to see why some have felt that Malzberg is all voice.

They couldn't be more wrong. Malzberg's voice is perhaps the sharpest and angriest the field has seen, and yet is in some ways the least of his tools, if the most supple. For in Malzberg's case the Voice is virtually always in service to the author’s heart which is in service to his intellect and sense of our poor bedamned and bedraggled culture. Heart/mind/voice--that Barry Malzberg committed his energy and talent to the application of that triptych to the key issues of our time in what looked for much of that time to be the key popular literature of our time, a world of work that could change the world is something for which many, if not enough, of us have been grateful for for close to four decades.

That Malzberg's great and enduring theme--we must dismantle the Communications Shack--is refracted in the demise of SCI FICTION's dismantling by one of the Communications Shack's larger players lends a sort of bitter lagniappe to the story’s reappearance and the renewal, for awhile, of its music.

Keith Ferrell is former Editor-in-Chief of OMNI Magazine.

Link to story.


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