Monday, January 03, 2005

The End. Endings Can Give Meaning

The year was 2004. What did it all mean? Who knows? All I can say is good riddens! Steven Winn, the SF Chronicle Arts and Culture Critic, wrote an excellent piece in the January 1, 2005 Datebook section about endings.

I'm so often frustrated by endings in SF books. They often over reach and go for immortality or vast destruction "and with that, they saw the heat death of the Universe." or "By stealing the rotational energy from the earth to power the Sphere it created the massive earthquakes that destroyed it."
Bah. Steven touches on how art and specificly endings in art can both gratify or frustrate.

But longing is a big part of endings. We all want to be carried away, touched and changed, even as we doubt that's how things may actually turn out.

In a lovely poem about failing to record the end of a movie on her VCR, Mona Van Duyn laments: " 'I can't bear it! I have to see how it comes out!'/ For what is story if not relief from pain/ of the inconclusive, from dread of the meaningless?" The poem ends with a wishful vow to follow "past vacancies of darkness" and in doing so, "to find the end of the story."

A tip o' the hat to Charlie Stross, the writer of the Atrocity Archives (and my new favorite author), who just struggled with ending his new book, Glasshouse. I'm looking forward to seeing how it turns out!


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