Sunday, April 16, 2006

An interesting note on Fritz Lieber and UFO's

This is not exactly Lovecraftian, but it is close and has lots of arcane books and a vague reference to Cthulhu and his kin. Today (April 16) Chrispy was perusing the $1 sale books at Half Price Books and found an obscure paperback [1]

Lieber's story [2] is typical tongue-in-cheek and social commentary. The interesting thing is how he chooses to describe the aliens. "Dad is the sort who could strangle two and a half Antarean multibrachs while using his sixth and seventh tentacles to read the latest supplement to Acta Cosmica." ... "These Earthans looked like arthritic heptapussies [3] with only four tentacles, the other three either cropped off [4] (ugh!) or twined in permanent tight knot at the tops of their bodies (double ugh!)." [5]

1 Flying Saucers In Fact and Fiction, ed. Hans Stefan Santesson, Lancer, 1968. The book has a whole list of essays and short stories dating from the period after the 1947 "flying saucer" flap through the Project Bluebook era. Notably, Theodore Sturgeon, Bertram Chandler, Lester del Rey, Robert Bloch, and Fritz Lieber are contributors. In addition, the notable Ivan T. Sanderson of Fortean and Bigfoot fame contributes. "Our Saucer Vacation", pp. 63-87. An obvious pun of the notorious return to school essay, "What I did on my summer vacation".

2 The story was originally printed in Fantastic Universe, December 1958.

3 The aliens are heptapods, i.e. seven limbed - as opposed to Cthulhu and his octopus (octopod) relatives! Therefore, they are "heptapus" and refered to as "heptapussies", no doubt a clever way to get "pussies" into a science fiction magazine.

4 It appears Lieber is indicating the legs as two appendages, arms as two appendages, women's breasts as two appendages, and the head as the seventh appendage. Otherwise, it is hard to count seven "pods" for people.

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