Monday, November 29, 2010

Pulp Cover

Short Story by Gene Wolfe
Starship Sofa podcast read by Mike Boris

This story, as explained by the title and at the end, are basically a look at one of the tropes of bad movies and generic cover art of 1950s SF, but with the introduction of Wolfe's subtlety and restraint. A man wants to marry his boss's young daughter, but loses to a handsome, rich, Yale-graduate competitor. Except maybe the guy isn't who he says he is.

This isn't Wolfe's deepest work, but there is still much more to it than your average story. Fear and sadness are much more prevalent than the jealousy you'd expect this story to be about. Somewhat simplistic, there is still an extra twist-beyond-the-twist, and the brevity and openendedness make for an effective horror story. I'm particularly left wondering why the protagonist hired a writer to tell his story (Gene Wolfe, of course!) and why he felt his name had to be hidden, but the world made aware. There is a remaining menace and mystery to what ought to be a bittersweet happy ending, and I really like that.

Primarily a creepy little horror story set in either the 50s or today, but where all the horror is implied, aside from the protagonist's feeling of being generally creeped out. The ending was great, 4 distressed women in tinfoil bikinis out of 5.

Pulp Cover was originally published in Asimov's March 2004.
It was reprinted for the Hartwell & Cramer Year's Best SF 10 anthology.
And again for Gene Wolfe's Starwater Strains collection.

No comments: