Young People Read Old SFF

No Trading Voyage

Doris Pitkin Buck

Young People Read Old SFF

12 Nov, 2020

This month’s entry is from Doris Pitkin Buck, a Science Fiction Writers of America founder. Buck was mainly associated with The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, which for various stupid reason was not a magazine I followed closely back in the day. Accordingly, I was not familiar with her work when I encountered this example of it way, way back in 2019. I see I carefully side-stepped my issues with poetry in my review. Let’s see what my Young People made of her poem. 

Rediscovery Vol 1: SF by Women 1958 — 1963 is available here.


No Trading Voyage:
This a short poetic piece which could easily have been a forgettable space adventure. However, Buck does some very interesting things to raise it up:

  1. Turning into a short poem rather than an overly long and descriptive prose novella gives it a magical feel.
  2. The sparseness of it is combined with an intense worldbuilding. Allowing us to imagine worlds without land or Pleione’s who can see the entire electromagnetic spectrum. I have a theory that the best science fiction is one in which you could imagine an entire series of tales stretching off from a single line. This story does that eminently well.
  3. The final two lines create a haunting counterpoint to the rest of the story, moving us away from an amazing space opera with pirates and intelligent plants to that of a dead Earth.

A really marvellous piece. Probably my favourite of the collection.