“The Festival of Tethselem” by Chris Butler

IZ224 coverMy problem with this story — in which travellers visit a distant city, at the heart of which is a mysterious artefact called The Figure of Frozen Time, which is reputed to have the power to change history; and which wants to be an elegy for time, memory, and loss, told in a formal English voice; and which looks a bit like fantasy, but is really sf — is that I keep thinking, this would be much better if Ian R MacLeod had written it. Unfair of me, I know.

8 Responses to ““The Festival of Tethselem” by Chris Butler”

  1. Interzone 2009 « Torque Control Says:

    […] “The Festival of Tethselem” by Chris Butler […]

  2. Rich Horton Says:

    That is unfair, of course, but it’s true, isn’t it?

    That said, I thought it a pretty decent story, not a great one, but decent.

  3. Niall Says:

    Yes, it’s not bad. Something about the length — the pace, the rhythm — felt slightly off, but I can’t decide whether it’s because I think it’s too short or too long.

  4. Garkbit Says:

    Hmmm, and I suppose Mozart’s 40th would have been better if Beethoven had written it. Or anything by Lowery would have been better if Len da Vinci had painted it.

    Well we don’t have Piet Mondrian’s Sunflowers, or Shakespeare’s pilot for Coronation Street, so saying any work created by one artist would have been better done by another is not only unfair, it’s puerile and lazy critique.

    3 out of ten for being sneering and uninformative, Unfair of me? I don’t know so much

  5. Niall Says:

    I’ll cop to lazy — these are only short reaction posts, after all, for the most part — but you’re misrepresenting my point, there. The Mona Lisa wouldn’t be better done by Lowry because Da Vinci and Lowry have different goals. Saying I felt this story would be better done by Ian MacLeod is a way of saying I think they share goals, and methods; but that MacLeod’s fiction regularly does very well the things that this story does quite well.

  6. Garkbit Says:

    “Ian MacLeod …and Chris Butler…[seem to] share goals, and methods; but […] MacLeod’s fiction regularly does very well the things that this story does quite well.”

    Much better.

    All I want is clarity of thought and expression.

  7. Niall Says:

    I can’t tell you how delighted I am to have improved your opinion of my opinion.

  8. Garkbit Says:

    Pfft~ I still disagree with you, but now cordially. I think Tethsalem has far more in common with Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius stories. Not so much the later ones which became nothing but transparent satire, but the earlier more opaque, emotional and world weary stories.

    All I can say is that it worked for me, and would probably repay a second reading.


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