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Bewildering Stories

Bewildering Stories discusses...

The Dream World in Oikos Nannion

with Martin Kerharo

Veteran readers will remember Martin Kerharo as the author of The Dohani War. In a recent message, Martin makes important observations concerning characterization and structure in Elous Telma’s novel Oikos Nannion. And we may eagerly look forward to more; Martin says he’s only up to chapter 15 !

Hello, Don,

Just a note about Oikos Nannion, the story currently running in Bewildering Stories.

The author writes well; the story is easy to read, and the characters are very lively: we can feel their personalities and states of mind. The opening, with the cat, is original and immediately made me want to read what follows.

Afterwards, the story becomes very dreamlike, IMHO, particularly in Frank’s long dream or delirium sequence, in chapter 11. It is truly “bewildering,” I must say!

I always have a little trouble with dream sequences, since I’m an incorrigible rationalist, but that’s not a problem. The author has a lot of imagination! Might he have used his own nightmares? The sequence resembles real dreams, with incongruous and absurd elements. If it’s invented, it’s really impressive.

I realized then — after the episode with the cat — that the whole story is permeated with dreams. Or might it even be surrealism? I don’t know enough about that to be able to say for sure.

There are many situations and remarks that suggest doubt and insecurity: the attitude of the shark, in chapter 13, when Meni wants to go and help Frank, who is plunging into the water like a sleepwalker; but the shark follows her, and she withdraws. That’s very strange. Meni is a scientist, but she is very much influenced by her emotions. Her colleague, Mari, is hardly any better off; she lets Mari manipulate her.

The effect is that the author creates a sense of unease in the reader; Frank, Meni and Mari act very strangely. The others are “normal”; they are only scientists seeking a new discovery that will make them famous, while the other three characters are quite out of that picture. At least they seem to be at the moment; I’m only beginning chapter 15.

In short, I am looking forward to finding out where all that will lead. It is very interesting. To the author: Bravo!

More to come...

Martin

Salut Don,

Je t’écris juste un petit mot au sujet de “Oikos Nannion”, l’histoire qui est en train de passer dans Bewildering Stories.

L’auteur écrit bien, c’est facile à lire, les personnages sont très vivants, on ressent leur personnalité, leurs états d’âme. Le début avec le chat est original et m’a tout de suite donné envie de lire la suite.

Après, l’histoire devient très onirique (à mon humble avis), en particulier la longue séquence avec le rêve/délire de Frank, au chapitre 11. C’est vraiment “bewildering”, pour le coup ! :-)

J’ai toujours un peu de mal avec les séquences oniriques, étant un incorrigible rationaliste, mais ce n’est pas grave. L’auteur a beaucoup d’imagination ! Aurait-il utilisé ses propres cauchemars ? Car cela ressemble à de vrais rêves, avec ces éléments incongrus et absurde... Si c’est inventé, c’est vraiment impressionnant.

J’ai alors réalisé que toute l’histoire — après l’épisode avec le chat — est imprégné d’onirisme. Voire de surréalisme, non ? Je ne m’y connais pas assez pour pouvoir en juger :-)

Il y a de nombreuses situations, de nombreuses remarques qui suggèrent des doutes, des insécurités... L’attitude du requin au chapitre 13, quand Meni veut aller aider Frank qui s’enfonce dans l’eau comme un somnambule ; le squale la suit, si bien qu’elle renonce. C’est tellement étrange. Meni est une scientifique, or elle se laisse beaucoup influencer par ses émotions. Sa collègue Mari n’est guère mieux lotie. Elle se laisse manipuler par Meni...

L’auteur arrive en fait à engendrer un malaise chez le lecteur : Frank, Meni et Mari agissent bizarrement. Les autres sont “normaux”, ce sont juste des savants à la recherche d’une nouvelle découverte qui les rendra célèbres ; tandis que ces trois personnages — du moins pour l’instant : je suis en train de commencer le chapitre 15 — sont décalés.

Bref, je suis curieux de découvrir où tout cela va nous mener, c’est intéressant ! Bravo à l’auteur :-)

A+

Martin


Thank you, Martin! You’re only up to chapter 15? You’re in for a wild ride in the last seven chapters. I’m very much looking forward to finding out what you think of them.

Meanwhile, you’ve outlined important features in Oikos Nannion. The novel is a mystery story. What is happening “in the deep” that causes Meni and, especially, Frank and Mari to have strange experiences that are quite beyond their scientist colleagues’ understanding? That mystery creates the tension between the characters and is the leitmotif of the novel.

Bewildering Stories has an official policy about dreams. A story can’t end with “but it was all a dream,” because it logically cancels itself out; it must describe a narrator’s reality. Dream sequences, on the other hand, are quite acceptable, because dreams are a mode of interpreting reality, not reality itself.

Therefore, Oikos Nannion is not a “dream” story by Bewildering Stories’ definition. And it is no spoiler to point out the obvious: Frank’s hallucinations, especially, tell us that this is a “first contact” story. And “contact” is proving to be very difficult.

Bewildering Stories holds an enviable position among webzines; our frequency of publicaton makes it easy to serialize long works. And serialization has done both your Dohani War and Elous Telma’s Oikos Nannion big favors: readers can absorb and enjoy a chapter at a time, unhurriedly.

Unfortunately, on-line readers are a notoriously impatient lot. Worst-case scenario: two readers are reading the same story on their smart phones; one, while driving, the other, while crossing the street. For both, the story is over before it begins. Readers, please do not do that! Rather, read at the story’s own pace. Readers who are in a big hurry do themselves and the story no favors.

Don Webb
Managing Editor
Bewildering Stories


Responses welcome!

date Copyright July 18, 2016 by Bewildering Stories
and Martin Kerharo

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