Friday, 29 June 2018

'Mr Saria'

This vignette from Michael Eisele's new collection is a pithy sci-f tale of a sort that's been popular
fore a long time - and with good reason. It's a sub-genre that I recall from old-time pulp magazines in stories by writers like Theodore Sturgeon, C.M, Kornbluth, and Fritz Leiber. Everyday reality masks a starting truth. The approach was revived in the Seventies by, among many others, Alice Sheldon ('James Tiptree Jnr') in stories such as 'Beam Me Home'.

The eponymous janitor/handyman of an apartment building is an undercover alien (not a spoiler, as this is the first thing we learn). 'Mr Saria' is a reptilian creature who has a tendency to overheat the apartments above his basement lair. He uses a kind of holo-scrambler thingy to appear human to all the 'hairy monkeys' who keep pestering him to fix stuff.

At this point you might wonder why any being would want to travel many light years for such a mundane lifestyle. But Saria's true purpose is more elevated than fixing radiators. Without giving too much away, there's a strong element of wish-fulfilment in this one. A pleasant tale of interstellar decency, in fact.

More from this running review shortly.

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