The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2011

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MAY 2011 Issue

Richard Kostelanetz in memory of Robert Heinlien

If science fictions extrapolate from known possibilities, these move beyond, above as well as below.

Taking a tighter grip on his pole, secretly stuffing some pills into his mouth, the young man vaulted high over the bar and then, instead of coming down, ascended into the skies.

Abraham Lincoln is still alive and well, practicing law in downstate Illinois.

Day after day, for two full weeks without any sleep, he told more jokes than any of us had ever heard in our lives.

He and her called themselves “itselves.”

He shed his skin layer after layer until presenting himself to us as a full-breasted woman.

Over the Internet, where everyone could read it, she published a narrative relating in persuasive detail how she dove into a river and disappeared.

For a touchdown he caught a pass thrown ninety-five yards.

Between themselves brother and sister communicated without speaking a word.

He imagined himself writing single-sentence fictions whose defining quality would be impossible actions.

In the beginning was a woman who could disappear whenever touched by an adult man.

For every story here I rejected at least one hundred drafts.

The Soviet Union didn’t disintegrate; don’t believe what you read in American newspapers.

He cloned himself not just once but twice.

Stuffing his mouth with bubble gum, he blew a bubble so big it swallowed his body until it disappeared.

Thousands of books she wrote even though no one ever read them.

Science fictions are credible; unscience fictions, incredible.

He sought to bring an end to Time.

Once in heaven I found myself invited by virgins in diaphanous gowns.

Neurotic about leaving his toilet, he conducted his daily business from his throne.

She composed songs with pitches so high not even dogs could hear them.

Taking a deep breath before exhaling a fierce wind, he vanished.

Revelations of his immortality he had routinely.

Once I inhabited a planet previously unknown, I named it after myself.

He liked to write stories that no one else would write or even want to write.

In an instant he saw his future from largest outlines to smallest detail.

Consider him our prophet, as he successfully walked on water.

Soon after they first met, they got to know each other profoundly, never getting out of bed except to eat, pee, and crap.

Embedded in his chest was a telephone that he could turn on and off merely by whispering the word “Change.”

To the world’s newspapers he offered photographs of Eve’s initial seduction of Adam.

Thanks to a special diet, he grew and grew until he was well over ten feet tall.

To atheists he would be the only god.

No one ever told him which of his three mothers was actually his; nor which of several possible fathers.

Screaming “Shazam,” she discarded her street clothes to become Superwoman.

He became a screaming meanie who never stopped.

Among the other books authored by RK are Summa Theologica, La Commedia, Il Decamerone, The Canterbury Tales. Il Principe, Gargantua, Don Quixote de la Mancha, Pensées La Vida es sueno, Phaedra, Candide, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Sandy Gent, La Bourgeois Gentilhomme, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, Democracy in America, I promessi sposi, Faust, Moby-Dick, Les Fleurs du Mal, Das Capital, Un Coup de des, The Making of Americans, Ulysses, A la Recerche de temps perdu, Eimi, Tractatus, Finnegans Wake, Absalom Absalom, Ficciones, The Cantos, Greguerias, Comment c’est. . . .

With his eyes alone the deafmute could tell jokes that made his family laugh.

She cartwheeled from one end of Manhattan to the other.

Escaping the police, he leaped through an open manhole into a sewer that swept him into a world peopled by giants he’d never seen before.

He blew at the sun until it disappeared from the sky.

The canaries in my cage in the morning became hawks every afternoon.

He constructed a hut around himself, brick by brick, until he found himself unable to get out.

In his ideal society everyone’s madnesses would be acceptable.

His batteries charged as they discharged.

He is eight feet tall; she, four feet.

When he dropped his pants, we saw a penis that fell below his knees.

Voodoo epitomizes unscience fictions.

With a wave of his hand he routinely turned his designated enemies into goats.

Everything they touched became memorialized as shards of God.

Whichever way he walked down our street, no shadows were cast.

The baseball thrown by the new pitcher became progressively smaller as it neared home plate.

Can’t the possible subjects for Unscience Fictions be less limited than those for SciFi?

Out of the package in my mailbox sprung the future wife whom I selected from a flier.

When it rained, he spit back at the sky.

My dogs talk not only to each other but with me.

In his daydreams he seduced every woman whose eyes would meet his.


Richard Kostelanetz

Individual entries on RICHARD KOSTELANETZ's work in several fields appear in various editions of Readers Guide to Twentieth-Century Writers, Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature, Contemporary Poets, Contemporary Novelists, Postmodern Fiction, Webster's Dictionary of American Writers, The HarperCollins Reader's Encyclopedia of American Literature, Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Directory of American Scholars, Who's Who in America, Who's Who in the World, Who's Who in American Art,,, and, among other distinguished directories. Otherwise, he survives in New York, where he was born, unemployed and thus overworked.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAY 2011

All Issues