by Victoria Lucas
I am so honored to be taking up space here! The Traveler thought enough of my letters to the editor that he asked me to become a regular contributor. In my letters I mentioned how I've just graduated from Stanford and am going back to my old job in the Drama Department at the University of Arizona, and my mother's home, where I'm typing on an old portable Smith-Corona that has seen far too many papers, dissertations, theses, and so on as I've struggled to work my way through college.
Last fall I tacked up on my bulletin board (unfortunately in the sun) a short column of news about somebody with whom I sometimes work in Tucson little theatre--Bob Hammond, a French professor at the University of Arizona who once won a Fulbright to Paris and never recovered. He writes his plays in French and English and translates from each language into the other. The blurb introduced Hammond as one of four playwrights who formed a producing group for their work. One of the other playwrights was a fellow by the name of Charles Finney who was supposed to produce a play of his this year.
(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
The article reminded me that I may have met Finney as I house-managed and assistant-directed Bob's plays. Or I might have seen him in his workplace, the newspaper building downtown, where he has been editor of the Arizona Daily Star for 32 years (I spent my Saturdays at the Tucson Daily Citizen my senior year in high school helping to put out the "Teen Citizen," a section of the paper.) So when I ran across The Circus of Dr. Lao and Other Improbable Stories I picked it up. It's edited by Ray Bradbury and published by Bantam Books, first out 1956.
In the very first sentence of his introduction to this book of short and long stories, Bradbury asserts that the works in this book "are fantasies, not science-fiction." He goes on to list some adjectives and statements that contrast science fiction and fantasy as genres (or at least his idea of the genres). Then, in two short, strident paragraphs, like trochees in a poem, he argues:
"Science-fiction balances you on the cliff.
Fantasy shoves you off."
This book of short stories (and one long one) conforms to that opinion. At least the shoving-off-cliffs part.