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.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

"The Mouse" by Fredric Brown: An Appreciation by Gary Alan Wassner

Timelessness. The timelessness of the fantastic is what strikes me so profoundly. The mind can only bridge certain gaps, and those are so narrow in the scope of things that it's really quite scary. So what do we do when we can't make that leap from mystery to comprehension? We write science fiction and fantasy.

This story could have been written yesterday. We haven't come any closer today to understanding what form an extraterrestrial might take than we were in 1949 when Fredric Brown wrote this. But that's what so marvelous about this kind of writing. The imagination has to govern the way a story is shaped, not facts. And where do we get the food for these thoughts? We tap into what mystifies us all; how small we are. Writing about aliens reminds us of just how little we do know and it humbles us. Presidents and scientists, Prime Ministers and Generals, ordinary people, all blend into one another, lose their independence, their distinguishing characteristics, when juxtaposed against the unknown, the limitlessness of what we don't know. Stories like this one, simple, well told, personal stories just like this, serve as the great equalizers, the most effective means of leveling the playing field, egalitarian in all respects. In the face of the unknown, we are merely human. In the face of the unknown, we are tiny, tiny creatures, struggling to make sense out of a limitless universe that we can never truly embrace with our minds. In the face of the unknown we can only dance and sing . . . and write fantastic fiction.

Link to story.

Gary Alan Wassner


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