08 September 2009
Theodore Sturgeon: THE NAIL AND THE ORACLE (Volume XI of the Complete Stories...)
Theodore Sturgeon, in my opinion, was one of the five-or-so best short story writers of the twentieth century, in English or any other language (I'd be hard pressed to spout off the other five, but I felt that calling him "the best" might be pushing it a little bit, and added them mostly for show). The Nail and the Oracle: Volume XI of the Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon doesn't happen to contain any of his very best work, but it does contain a lot of his better work, and is well worth reading for that reason alone (I told you, he's good). This isn't where I would start, had I never read Sturgeon before but was inclined to listen to my own advice about where to start reading Sturgeon (the previous conundrum may have contained a couple impossibilities, but let's forget them for a second, the way Sturgeon would've--forgotten them, or found a way around them. He was so damned creative, you see...). As an avowed Sturgeon fan, however (...and so magical, so original, so willing to take an idea and run with it, only it'd be an idea you'd've never had in the first place. Yes, that's it, he'd take ideas you never would've had in the first place to places you would've never thought to go with them), I thoroughly enjoyed myself. And while, interestingly enough, most of the actual writing in this post has been metadiscourse (the actual review [I give this book an A] has been largely contained within parentheses), I'd like to advance my opinion of it right now: The Nail and the Oracle contains second-rate work by a writer whose second-rate sails far above and beyond most people's first-rate. Theodore Sturgeon was a giant, a king of the short story, and remains one today. Reading his work is, for me, an act of love (still...no A+ for this volume. That A will have to do).