2.09.2004

Abominable

Here’s an interesting literary trick I’m not sure many are aware of:

Judith Merril collected Frederic Brown’s 1960 story “Abominable” in her 6th annual Year’s Best SF (reprinted from a magazine called Dude--aka. lad mag?).

A knighted Brit, Sir Chauncey, goes in search of the world’s most beautiful woman who was last seen kidnapped by a yeti.

One might say the character objectifies women: “he was a connoisseur of women” even though he “had never seen Lola Gabraldi, in the flesh.... the most pulchritudinous movie star Italy had ever produced.” Produce.

In Brown’s defense, there’s a switch at the end in which Chauncey becomes the object, from which the title earns its keep. Despite this, it may have proved troublesome to a woman who may have read it and published a story with the exact same title as a response.

Damon Knight published “Abominable” by Carol Emshwiller twenty years later in Orbit 21 (the story was later reprinted first by James Gunn for The Road to Science Fiction #4 and later by Pamela Sargent for Women of Wonder: The Contemporary Years.

Here we have a group of men stalking the mountainside for these elusive creatures called women. Their techniques are laid out as a Wild Kingdom docu-narrative and are amusingly predictable. The title has quite another connotation altogether.

It’d be nice to see these two laid out side by side. In fact, someone ought to do an anthology of these kinds of stories that reflect off one another to good effect.

The Frederic Brown story may be found at NESFA.

The Carol Emshwiller story may be found at Small Beer Press.

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