Department header
Bewildering Stories

Bertil Falk writes about...

A Surprise Nomination

Hi Don.

I realize that you are swamped with letters and stories and things, but I would like to say that I am overwhelmed by the verdict of the review editors and stunned by the choice of “The Rocketflame’s Song,” a good title bestowed on the poem not by me, and a poem I did not at all consider as much more than a funny part of "Requiem for an Android.” Well, well, surprise, surprise...

However, I have just read all the chapters of Noble Lies — I saved them until the story was completed — and I think that Lucas or someone else in Tinseltown could make a fine movie based on it. I especially liked the parts taking place in New Ostia and Iron Town.

There are so many good things to read and the backlog is enormous, but I think that android stories by Bill Bowler will be next on my reading agenda.


At Bewildering Stories we like nice surprises, Bertil. “The Rocketflame’s Song” — an obvious title, it seemed to me — was one such, and I vowed to return the favor.

The lyrics are indeed very funny, but that is only part of their charm. In addition, the song not only borrows from the classic love song and the blues, it also incorporates a well-controlled postmodern use of language.

Nominating “The Rocketflame’s Song” for the Second Quarterly Review — in addition to the work in which it’s contained — might be seen as a form of “double dipping,” but I think it’s justified by the difference between the genres of prose and poetry. I saw a golden opportunity to establish a precedent: original poetry embedded in another work qualifies for consideration as poetry in its own right. We don’t want to miss anything.

* * *

As a rule, I strongly recommend reading serials as they appear rather than waiting till they’re completed. There’s a danger that you’ll forget about them or that the installments may become so numerous that you won’t feel like starting. We like to think that serials keep readers coming back.

Some readers protest, “I want to have the complete story before I begin.” Well, okay: tell me why. One of the greatest works of medieval literature, Chrétien de Troyes’ Perceval, was never completed. And part of its abiding mystery is that neither the author himself nor, really, a continuator like Wolfram von Eschenbach could find a way to conclude the story either at all or satisfactorily.

In like manner, such readers would deny themselves the comic strip adventures of Hal Foster’s “Prince Valiant,” which remains an artistic triumph as a graphic novel — before the genre was even invented. And Victor Hugo’s novels were immensely popular in the U.S. in the 19th century. They were serialized in newspapers, and people who just couldn’t wait would line up at dockside, where ships brought translations of the latest chapters of Les Misérables or Notre-Dame de Paris.

Noble Lies as a film? It does have a certain Star Wars touch at times, complete with engaging adult characters and better weapons than fluorescent-bulb light sabers. I’ve told Gary Inbinder that I, too, find the Iron-town episode particularly riveting. Maybe we can all dress up like Luddy and Aurelia — or, heaven help us, in Consul Finn’s toga — and parade after Gary up the red carpet when he’s interviewed at Oscar Night.

* * *

Bill Bowler’s android stories are a logical next step, and you’re in for another treat. Maybe someone can write us an article analyzing the deeper meanings of the role of androids in Noble Lies, “Requiem for an Android,” and Bill’s stories.

All told, welcome to the “quality explosion,” Bertil. You, Gary, and Bill are three of its stars. But once we start dropping names, where do we stop? That’s the glory of it, all right.


Copyright © 2007 by Bertil Falk
and Don Webb for Bewildering Stories

Home Page