Monday, October 6, 2008

The Rose by Charles L. Harness

I remember when I "discovered" the science fiction magazines. It started with Galaxy and Worlds of IF when Jim Baen was editing them. Soon after that, Analog(edited by Ben Bova), Fantasy and Science Fiction(Ed Ferman), Amazing Stories and Fantastic(both edited by Ted White) were added to my must read stack. Some of my favorite science fiction memories are from these magazines.

I fondly remember...

...the excitement of a new Amber novel by Roger Zelazny in Galaxy.

...Brigadier Ffellowes by Sterling Lanier in Fantasy and Science Fiction.

...Poul Anderson's A Knight of Ghosts and Shadows in Worlds of IF.

...the many stories by John Varley in Galaxy.

...Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game in Analog.

I could keep doing this indefinitely but I did have a reason for listing these stories. The next one I was going to list was The Araqnid Window by Charles L. Harness. It appeared in the December 1974(hard to believe it has been that many long ago) issue of Amazing Stories.

The Araqnid Window had it all. How can you resist a mystery involving an ancient civilization on an alien world? Harness had me hooked from the start. I heard rumors of his novels but never saw them. A few years ago I was in a used book store and spotted The Rose and The Ring of Ritournel. I practically ran to the register to check out. I took them home and put them on the shelf. Sure, I would occasionally take them down and look at them. But I always put them back. I was afraid of disappointment. I was barely a teenager when I read The Araqnid Window. What if Harness was not the writer that I remembered?

After reading Carl Anderson's comments about Orson Scott Card and Isaac Asimov on his Stainless Steel Droppings site, I decided to read The Rose for the Sci-Fi Experience 2008.

The Rose is far from disappointing. In the introduction, Michael Moorcock says that Arthur C. Clarke, Damon Knight, Brian Aldiss, and Judith Merril have praised this story. I can see why.

The Rose is more of an experience than a story. The basic story is the final battle between science and art. I hesitate to say more than that. You have to read this story to understand it.

The focus is on three main characters.

On the side of art is Anna van Tuyl(composer and psychologist) and Ruy Jacques(Anna's lover). Opposing them is Ruy's wife-Martha(she is working on a weapon that will prove that science is superior to art). You will have a hard time finding three more dynamic characters.

If you don't already have this book, find it. It is a unique addition to any library.

Highly recommended.

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