Michael Wyndham Thomas

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Cover art: Simon Bell

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THE MERCURY ANNUAL by Michael Wyndham Thomas (Theaker’s Paperback Library 2009)

My real-time review of this book and, later, of ‘Pilgrims at the White Horizon’ (2013) (the two parts of VALIANT RAZALIA) continued from HERE.
It will take place in the comment stream below as and when I read the books.

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8 responses to “Michael Wyndham Thomas

  1. Pages 65 – 70
    “So, dad… is Cloudy George getting them?”
    The relationship of Keith and his daughter Mog over ketchup – and that of Keith and George – with the comic collection as backdrop or ‘objective correlative’ or question of ownership – all most engagingly inferred for us. There is more to any of this than meets the mind’s-eyes, gradually developed under our reading-eyes, including Razalia itself not only as a specific literary ‘objective correlative’ but a real place in the universe that needs mystery or genius-misloci to keep it real. An im-provenance, as it were. A battle to be fought for it as well as by it?

  2. Pages 70 – 84
    “Keith had planted a chip against the lamb. Now he was leaning another against it, then a third. For a second they made a perfect little mountain, then fell over.”
    …a bit like the beginnings of the main character’s obsession in ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’…?
    Anyway, we now seem to leave that spear point of view for the distaff one (that of Keith’s wife, Donna). This is a wonderful literary portrayal by a form of stream of consciousness as she drives in her car, not exactly Molly’s Monologue about sexual matters although it is about ‘spouty’ things! It’s more Elizabeth Taylor (the author), with uxorious strategies regarding Keith’s comics and their value, Mog’s coming departure for uni, retro-collecting and a possible mid-life crush on a man with a chocolatey voice called Greville, and vying with her women-mates. It’s absolutely wonderful. I am wondering why this book is not more famous (assuming that it isn’t), and I sense it is because of the earlier Prologue that starts it off. That Prologue is a miracle of language and style and subject-matter. I have read nothing else like it. It is superb. But I sense it may put some readers off from reading the rest of the book, as it does take some effort of acclimatisation, I found. Also you need to be both a SF fan and a good general literature fan even if you get past the Prologue. It is not exactly an acquired taste, but it is something that, I feel, needs cleaning of one’s slate of expectation, entering it with a tabula rasa. It is well worth the effort and I expect it to remain so. As you can see, I can hardly put this book down. But I may have to put it down soon because of uxorious, elderly-mother, dual offspring and other domestic demands.
    It’s perhaps my version of Razalia, my continued obsession with finding that optimum shape of literary creation from the bits and bobs of genre and non-genre fiction. Building those leitmotifs into a gestalt, as I have been explicitly doing over the last few years with my book review style. Now I feel I’m going there, at last. Going to that place for the first close encounter. These “papers of provenance.” As well as providence.

  3. Pages 84 – 92
    “‘Ages behind,’ added Josie. ‘And there was nothing in the outside lane. Plenty of space right round him.’ / ‘Space!’ said Wilf. ‘He could have been on a country road.'”
    Think-driving (as it were) leads to Donna having a near-miss accident with a truculent truck and consequent dark echoes in her back – and we thus learn some of her dark painful backstory that she keeps in her own version of a loft (in contrast to Keith’s Comic loft). With some feeling of guilt I now fully realise she is a real person with depth and fallibility and not just a comic-strip uxorious force like Andy Capp’s wife. The couple who come to her aid are a real irritating horror, though, worthy of a Mike Leigh film! This deepening novel keeps taking you places, perhaps still skirting the real place it wants to take you to?

  4. Pages 92 – 102
    “It was as though something had allowed her a minute with her old self, like you’d allow a prisoner with his family.”
    The arrival of the concept of Proustian selves in this book, this morning, makes me think, too, whether indeed Razalia itself is a variant self….making it easier to ‘role-play’ it into existence, in fact a self more real than the one you think your inferred real self to be? Anyway, with the aftermath of Donna’s road traffic incident, after which, upon homecoming, her thrown meta-ball arcs then plunges psychologically, we are led seamlessly (I say that advisedly despite the chapter break) back into the world of Razalia and Razalians and its concerns and visitors as if that world is another version of Donna’s retro antique of a spouty teapot (in the shape of an owl?) – “Razalia was loved for its antique quaintness.” – adumbrated, now, not so much by an inferentially independent narrative but more by the Keith-like allusions such as “this time like kids glued to a screen,” and “to use the crude linearities of Earth,” (Or is this still Peter Jones’ voice?) – and, again, I LOVE Razalia’s recalcitrant sun! (Razalian or Razalia: raise alien, inter alia, res alia?)

  5. Pages 102 – 111
    “He wondered if the bounds between creation and non-creation had always been so fragile -“
    Cf my earlier reference to creation versus mis-creation. This author’s sophisticated vision now fully hologrammatises architecturally (paradoxically becoming more real at the same time as more tenuous!) alongside the increasingly acclimatisable scenario and the chief Razalian character’s nervous perception of encroaching white or gaps in the fabric of his reality. No wonder I had a dream (reported in this review) of a blank story two nights ago! And today I find myself reading this: “Two nights before, white had entered his dreams,…”

  6. Pages 111 – 120
    “…he had the soul of the planet within him?”
    The ‘candling’ or pow-wow (or ‘palaver’ as Stephen King would call it) of Razalian leaders called Tharles (and I am now constructively reminded of the hilarious work of Rhys Hughes) makes me wonder if their telepathic interference with each other are signs of one entity with several Proustian selves or discrete entities who, with the encroaching gaps of white, are in danger of becoming one entity? I keep my powder dry. Meanwhile the sun seems to be ‘larking about’ elsewhere. LOVE that sun.

  7. This review will now continue in the comment stream HERE

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