The Infinitive of Go

October 26th, 2012 Comments Off

A sci-fi novel from 1980 from John Brunner, who wrote a hundred or so novels, none of which I’ve ever read. And I call myself a sci-fi fan. Picked it up at a used book sale, for no other reason than the cover art and the title were delightful. The actual story, less so, but at 152 pages it was hardly a serious investment in time and was enjoyable enough. The plot concerns parallel universes, where you leave one and appear in the other and all your friends are wearing leather and sporting sinister looking mustaches and eye patches. But thankfully not quite so silly as all that, as Brunner does actually try to grapple with the infinite universes concept and how to go from one to another (which is I guess the pun of the title, which I didn’t understand until I finished reading, and even now I’m not too sure).

A detailed explanation of the plot is available on the book’s Wikipedia page, for the curious. But I found the best part of the book was actually not its story, but rather small poems that started each chapter. The poems had almost nothing to do with the chapters themselves, but were delightful in their own right. Here are some of my favorites (named by their chapter headers):

TWO

suppose you wanted
to talk to the stars
and you succeeded
but it turned out
the stars themselves
are not on speaking terms

TEN

here is what you’ll need
they said when he set out
passport guidebook foreign money
but the passport held no visa
the guidebook had blank pages
and the money turned out to be forged

THIRTEEN

suppose you dreamed
of being in an unknown country
its language incomprehensible
its writing indecipherable
without recollection of going there
and waking found it was for instance Korea

TWENTY

you thought you were making
a pretty good impression
you felt you were liked
by the people you worked with
but one day abruptly
they said we’re letting you go

The story alone didn’t convince me to read more Brunner, but those poems, and how they related (or didn’t) with the chapters they began? Brilliant, sign me up for more.

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