Or All the Seas with Oysters by Davidson, Avram, 1957

Or All the Seas with Oysters by Davidson, Avram

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Or All the Seas with Oysters, 1958, by Avram Davidson, originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction: For just about his entire career Avram Davidson has been better known for fantasy works than for SF. He has written mostly short stories in his career, and to me, he seems best known as a pun-ster and practical-joke-man, but that is probably because he was very agile with the written word and could turn humor without effort. 1957 was a good year for Davidson, as he won a Hugo award for this little ditty, Or All the Seas with Oysters. It is about a nerdy bicycle repairman who notices one day that the numbers of safety pins and wire hangers in his possession seem to change on their own. He cannot figure out why safety pins are never on hand, but coat hangers are plentiful.

One day his partner, a gruff, alcoholic womanizer named Oscar stole his French racing bike to pedal down a tart in the park. When Oscar returned his bike Ferd (the Nerd) views it as soiled and wants nothing to do with it anymore. To show his displeasure he destroyed the bike in a fit of anger. A few days later Ferd and Oscar returned to the shop and the racing bike was miraculously repaired. Ferd disavowed knowledge of the repair and became frightened, then told Oscar that of his theory: Ferd had come to believe that metallic objects were an alien form of life that went through various metamorphic changes. In their infancy they were safety pins, wire hangers in their youths, and bicycles and cars and wrought iron gates and the like as adults.

Ferd said, "One day there's a cocoon; the next day there's a moth. One day there's an egg; the next day there's a chicken. But with. . . these it doesn’t happen in the open daytime where you can see it. But at night, Oscar, at night you can hear it happening. All the little noises in the nighttime Oscar - "

Oscar blows him off and threw Ferd on the bike, but the bike bucked him off! Oscar noticed nothing and told Ferd that he was being weak and whiney. Oscar said nothing to anybody when Ferd disappeared two days later, never to be seen again. For an absurdist little pulp-derived tale such as this one, I think it was probably Davidson's reputation as a skilled writer more than the mechanics of this story that won him the award. Three stars out of five.

Copyright © 2008, Gregory Tidwell

Reviewed by GTT · Rating Rating of 3 star(s)

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