sturgeonslawyer (sturgeonslawyer) wrote,

Space Chantey, by R.A. Lafferty (2019-29)

Who knew that there was not one but two Space Odysseys released in 1968?

This is Lafferty's first published novel, and pretty much his shortest -- at 123 pages, the "short side" of an Ace Double. Lafferty is still a tyro at this novel business here, but it's a fun read, even if the schtick does run thin at times.

Schtick? Well, yes; Lafferty at his best was raucously howlingly funny even while telling you terrible things. Here, he tells the story of Captain Roadstrum (no first names given to spacers here!), who fought for ten years in a war then took ten more years to get home. And, yes, that should sound familiar, because it is a science-fiction-izing (and tall taling) of Odysseus' journey. Roadstrum ("the mighty Road-Storm") and his crew struggle through Lotophagians and Laestrygonians, and clashing rocks and the great vortex, and a planet devoted to gambling (where did that come from?), and many more episodes before Roadstum, all alone, makes it home. But then, the story doesn't end with the killing of the suitors; it goes on past that, and says something essential about space captains who have these adventures. Lafferty did not care for that sort of hero, and this shows in a great deal of his later work.

It is only raucously howlingly funny in places. In others it is amusing. What it never is is _boring_.
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