There is something statutory about its poisonous constancy

“The waters of the Polozny never freeze. No matter how cold it gets or how long the cold lasts, they are kept warm by a cocktail of pollutants and, though the river may flow more sluggishly in winter, it continues on its course, black and gelid. There is something statutory about is poisonous constancy. It seems less river than regulation, a divine remark rendered daily into law, engraving itself upon the world year after year until its long meander has eaten a crack that runs the length and breadth of creation, and its acids and oxides drain into the void.”

—from “Stars Seen Through Stone,” Lucius Shepherd, in the July 2007 issue of F&SF.


3 thoughts on “There is something statutory about its poisonous constancy

  1. Lucius can lay down the Lovecraft, can’t he? This novella is beautiful, relentlessly strange, and meandering, like the Polozny river I guess. It starts out like a light comedy, then veers left and right through horror and sf and relationship story, refusing at every step to go in the direction you expect.

    I can even forgive Shepherd’s tendency to make his first-person narrators, no matter what their background, adopt the convoluted syntax and hifalutin vocabulary of Mr. Shepherd. At one point the narrator of “Stars” launches into this: “And, finally, having made this brief rounds of my human potential, I would lapse again into Praxitelean scrutiny, a sculptor in love with his stone, content to drift in and out of a dream in which love, though it had been proved false (like Andrea said, an animal function, nothing more), proved to be eternally false, forever and a day of illusion, of two souls burning brighter and brighter until they appeared to make a single glow, a blazing unity concealed behind robes of aging flesh.”

    Okay, beautiful, but… Praxitelean?

  2. Errr… Not for me, thanks.

    For fictional polluted rivers, look no further than to Terry Pratchett. At one point he says that the inhabitants of Ankh-Morpork believe that their river is the cleanest one in the world, having passed through so many kidneys.

    Oh, and BTW — don’t put your own commentary in the comments section. That way it won’t get distributed on the RSS feed, and far fewer readers will realise that you’ve said anything.

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