Bewildering Stories discusses...
Floozman Down to Earth
[Bill Bowler] One of the best things I have ever read. Complex, moving, compelling, funny, brilliant. Layers upon layers, interwoven cross-currents — and I only understood about a third of the references! It leaves me breathless.
Remember how it began? Outer Space sci-fi. And the quiet, tranquil lyricism at the end, following Armageddon, is a great way to close the epic, though it never ends, does it?
It's sad to part company now with Cayzac, but maybe Floozman will reappear yet again?
[Don Webb] Like you, Bill, I am blown away. And I saw about as many connections as you did; those that have escaped us remain a challenge for scholars.
The last chapter brings tears to the eyes: what an elegy! It’s completely unexpected after all that’s gone before. And yet Janatone’s homecoming completes the work. Janatone has brought Floozman to Earth, and Diana has the situation well in hand. As chapter 22 says, many stories remain to be told, but we know they will all end where Janatone is going, to the “eternal summer” of Being.
As a whole, Floozman in Space is about as French as can be: a semi-tragic and, at the same time, comic philosophical novel. The final chapter, “Navarre,” is the most French of all: a return to the terroir — the home country — with all its effects on the senses, from sight and sound to touch and taste. The province of Navarre is thus made the readers’ virtual home, as well.
At some point in the novel, I remarked to Bertrand that all the wild adventures were linked to a search for meaning. In that way, I said, Floozman in Space reminded me of Canada’s unofficial national anthem: Stan Rogers’ Northwest Passage, which ends:
How then am I so different from the first men through this way?|
Like them, I left a settled life, I threw it all away,
To seek a Northwest Passage at the call of many men,
To find there but the road back home again.
Bertrand enthusiastically agreed.
With polishing, Floozman in Space and Floozman dans l’espace should find publishers. They would make an unusual addition to 21st-century literature where both French and English are read.
[Gary Inbinder] Bertrand writes for a very limited audience. While I admire his writing greatly and am amazed by his erudition, Floozman in Space is not something I’d choose to read for pleasure. Rather, it’s more like assigned reading, an exercise for the mind. Nevertheless, I consider it one of the best things I’ve read for BwS.
[Gary Clifton] Floozman is a ranging, highly innovative piece or work which leads the reader over a twisting field of imagination, inspirational concepts – the list of superlatives goes on and on.
I found segments surprisingly intriguing and some, I had to read the thoughts of others to try to follow the gist, wishing I had that crib book I saw two old ladies use in courses on Hamlet.
Among all other things to be said about Floozman, Cayzac consistently shows the gumption to write down thoughts and concepts few others would attempt or, for that matter, even be able to articulate. A great model of thinking outside the box.
However, I’d offer a confirmed, lifelong observation: no matter how eloquent the message, how inspiring the story, if I don’t follow it at all times, neither do a lot of others.
[Bill B.] I thought at first that Floozman was a vision of the future, of Things to Come, brilliant, original, unusual, encyclopedic, fully integrated and fully realized. But in the reading, it dawned on me: it’s not only the future he’s describing. It’s also the past and present, all at once. It’s similar to the approach taken by Philip K. Dick. The future is kind of window dressing, an image of man’s condition seen through a glass darkly. It’s not the future, but a vision of the world and our place in it, Dream-Land:
By a route obscure and lonely|
Haunted by ill angels only
Where an eidolon named Night
on a black throne reigns upright,
I have reached these lands but newly
From an ultimate dim Thule
From a wild weird clime that lies sublime
Out of Space, Out of Time...
[Gary I.] Bill, thanks for the excerpt from one of my favorite Poe poems, “Dream-Land.” That poem is referenced in a fascinating surrealistic Japanese film, Mystery of Rampo, which I highly recommend.
As for descriptions of the past, present and future, a vision of the world and our place in it, I also highly recommend Mike Judge’s Idiocracy, a Rabelaisian satire extraordinaire.
[Bill B.] I hear you, Gary C. and Gary I.. about the difficulty in following the story. It has plenty of utile but not enough dolce. I’m reminded of Mark Twain on Wagner: “His music is better than it sounds.”
For some reason, I had a different reaction. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the text, looked forward to it from week to week, and found it all highly entertaining, even when it was challenging or obscure.
I don’t know why exactly. It may have been the voice that was speaking, telling the story. It was the voice of someone so perceptive, so knowledgeable, so sympathetic, someone who saw the humor and the glory in our vain and pathetic existence... It carried me along.
The swirl of characters and events could become confusing at times. I didn’t bother to try and remember or sort out the details. It didn’t seem to matter. It was the big picture that intrigued me, and I welcomed my time spent with the congenial narrator recounting the tale and sharing his thoughts and feelings about it.
[Don W.] As usual, our Review Editors have different points of view, all valid. Which are you more comfortable with? Take your pick. You may even choose all at once; they’re not mutually exclusive.
The differences seem to depend on how the readers perceive narrative time. The story can be read episodically or holistically. In the episodes, readers can enjoy the action. Taking the broad view allows readers to enjoy the philosophy.
Chapter 22 has something to say about that:
But, in truth, duration is not a dead thing; it lets a few heroes enter, ones who are driven by a dream. Janatone can get through. She enters old time without disturbing it, like a ghost.
Thus, as Bill says, past, present and future coexist simultaneously. And Bertrand reminds us in correspondence that Janatone doesn’t lie down on the bench and breathe her last. She may say she wants to, but she’s actually waiting for the story to continue:
And yet everything depends on her, sleeping or waking, whoever she is. She is a she-cyborg if she wants to be, and she is her lovers at the same time: Jenny-Astralix and Joe, who will eventually emerge from the wall to keep the story going.
The story may continue without her, but continue it will. Perhaps a third part will bring back some of the forgotten characters so prominent in Part One, such as Joe Dasein, or Sancho, or Dr. Weenie, or Jenny Appleseed, or Jay-Beeh, or even the sentient doorway. But for now, Janatone can rest.
by Bewildering Stories