Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Special Deliverance

Clifford D. Simak Special Deliverance (1982)
Here's another late period Simak, and one that feels somewhat like a more ponderous rewrite of Devil Doll, even allowing for the man's tendency to recycle certain themes. It kicks off well with our boy accessing an alternate reality by means of a one-armed bandit, reminding me a little of the alternate Earth to which we travel by means of a child's spinning top in Ring Around The Sun. Duly deposited in bewildering surroundings, we meet another typically Simakian mismatched band of motley characters of patently allegorical disposition, notably the cynical, argumentative Parson, the domineering Brigadier, and of course, the shy, retiring robot as the innocent of the group. Whilst the quest upon which they embark kicks up a number of engaging discussions on religion, history, morality and so on, and as such feels more overtly Swiftian than is generally true of Simak's oeuvre, the problem is that we're never quite clear as to just what it is they're seeking, at least not until the end; or at least the reasons given are not well defined, and so Special Deliverance lacks at least some of the drive, not to mention the novelty of Destiny Doll. On the other hand, the conclusion is reasonably satisfying, elevating this one above the likelihood of it being something he wrote just for the sake of keeping his hand in. It's tough work finding anything to dislike about a Simak novel, generally speaking - unless you're just some miserable fucker who doesn't like anything - and there is little to dislike about this one, although it's probably not amongst his best.

I expect I've said something like this before, but noticing the alternate Earth once again accessed by juvenile means, the returning significance of William Shakespeare, the motley band on a quest, the religious man, and the robot as innocent - there is enough here to justify the existence of the term Simakian, and surely enough to justify a more in-depth summary of the man's work than exists at present. Please don't make me have to be the one who writes it. I'd only fuck it up.

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