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Fragment(s): List of Historical Events and Invented Scientific Articles in William Kotzwinkle’s Doctor Rat (1976)

(Ken Laidlaw’s cover for the 1977 edition)

I have fallen victim to hidden encyclopedic desires and delusions…

William Kotzwinkle’s Doctor Rat (1976) was so compelling that I went through and marked each and every historical event and invented scientific article. Kotzwinkle might have believed one of the historical events was real (allegations of chemical warfare involving spiders and anthrax by the US in the Korean War) although most likely it’s a fabrication.

I examined at length in my review Kotzwinkle’s use of these two categories to create a “substrate” underpinning the world. This well-realized background causes the reader to, in my words, “increasingly wonder what is possible, what is happening, and what has already happened.” I suggest “Doctor Rat derives its power from not only the brutality of what unfolds but also the careful integration of both the historical and the imaginary.” Simultaneously, as the scientific citations are mentioned as part of Doctor Rat’s own “contributions” to the scientific world, they tend to operate as satirical indicators of cruelty done in the name of scientific progress.

These citations also add to the “compulsive syndrome” (175) of the novel’s conclusion as scientific tidbits, pseudo-scientific citations, historical events (both real and imaginary) collide….

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Invented Scientific Articles

“It’s a 12-inch metal disc (for more, see my learned paper, “Rats on the Wheel,” Psy. Journal., 1963).” (10)

“Thank you, friends and fellow supporters, thanks for your confidence. As you know, the rat is man’s best friend. You’ve seen the advertisement in Modern Psychology magazine: “The Rat is Our Friend.'” (17) Continue reading Fragment(s): List of Historical Events and Invented Scientific Articles in William Kotzwinkle’s Doctor Rat (1976)

Book Review: Armed Camps, Kit Reed (1969)

Screen shot 2013-08-29 at 9.24.15 AM(Bob Haberfield’s cover for the 1969 edition)

4.5/5 (Very Good)

“[…] and the men were on the way to the bar, they were talking about the performance, they had to compare it to every other performance, they had to link them all and form them into something continuous, something to keep away the dark” (19).

Kit Reed’s first SF novel Armed Camps (1969) is all about characters constructing narratives and conjuring visions in order to keep the aphotic tides of societal disintegration at bay.  The two paralleled narratives — a woman (Anne) running from her past and a man (Danny March) slowly recounting what led to his own downfall — are two different ways of fighting off what is bound to come.  An oppressive melancholy that never lifts soaks the passages, presaging the motions of the characters as if they are trapped in some Thucydidean manifestation of the cyclicality Continue reading Book Review: Armed Camps, Kit Reed (1969)