Monday, May 16, 2011
1960's anthro-archaeo story: "High Weir" by Samuel R. Delany
Thanks to an old post on the now-defunct SciFi.com, you can read “High Weir,” a novelette written by author and noted literary critic Samuel R. Delany that was originally published in the October 1968 issue of If: Worlds of Science Fiction magazine. It’s an anthropological-archaeological work about the ruins of the once-great Martian city of High Weir. Here are the opening lines:
"WHAT do you know!" Smith, from the top of the ladder.
And Rimkin thought desperately: Boiled potatoes! My God, boiled potatoes! If I took toothpicks and stuck them in boiled potatoes, then stuck one on top of the other, made heads, arms, legs—like little snowmen—they would look just like these men in spacesuits on Mars.
"Concaved!" Smith called down. "You know those religious pictures they used to have back home, in the little store windows, where the eyes followed you down the street? The faces were carved in reverse relief like this."
"Those faces aren't carved in reverse relief!" Mak, right next to Rimkin, shouted up. "I can see that from here."
"Not the whole face," Smith said. "Just the eyes. That's why they had that funny effect when we were coming across the sand...”
Note the cool cover art by Douglas Chaffee!