PolySciFi Blog

Monday, May 02, 2005


Out Obsessed

In the summer of 1997, I spent a rainy week in the lobby of the Jackson Lake Lodge reading Gravity's Rainbow. Everything good you've heard about that book is true; it's really wonderful. But to read it, you have to have the kind of uninterrupted concentration that is only possible on a rained-out vacation; I've tried to reread it several times since and never made it more than half-way. Still, I always thought I was doing pretty well to have read it at all.

Then I heard about this guy. Zak Smith has illustrated every page, and put it online. I don't mean he drew over his pages, I mean for every page in the book, he's done an illustration. I've only flipped through them at random but they seem quite good.

I thought the Criterion Contraption was pretty obsessive. But I know when I'm beat. Zak! You win!

Here's one of my favorite passages from the book:

"I dream of a great glass sphere, hollow and very high and far away...the colonists have learned to do without air, it's vacuum inside and out...it's understood the men won't ever return...they're all men. There are ways for getting back, but so complicated, so at the mercy of language, that presence back on Earth is only temporary, and never "real"...passages out there are dangerous, chances of falling so shining and deep. ...Gravity rules all the way out to the cold sphere, there is always the danger of falling. Inside the colony, the handful of men have a frosty appearance, hardly solid, no more alive than memories, nothing to touch...only their remote images, black and white film-images, grained, broken year after hoarfrost year out in the white latitudes, in empty colony, with only infrequent visits from the accidental, like me...

"I wish I could recover it all. Those men had once been through a tragic day--ascent, fire, failure, blood. The events of that day, so long ago, had put them into exile forever...no, they weren't really spacemen. Out here, they wanted to dive between the worlds, to fall, turn, reach and swing on journeys curved through the shining, through the winter nights of space--their dreams were of rendezvous, of cosmic trapeze acts carried on in loneliness, in sterile grace, in certain knowledge that no one would ever be watching, that loved ones had been lost forever....

"The connections they hoped for would always miss by trillions of dark miles, by years of frozen silence. But I wanted to bring you back the story. I remember you used to whisper me to sleep with stories of us one day living on the Moon.
I should really reread that.


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