THE DEEP ONES: "The Delicate" by Jeffrey Ford

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THE DEEP ONES: "The Delicate" by Jeffrey Ford

1KentonSem
maig 22, 2020, 6:12pm

"The Delicate" by Jeffrey Ford

Discussion begins on May 27, 2020.

First published in the Spring 1994 issue of Space & Time.



ONLINE VERSIONS

No online versions found to date.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

http://www.isfdb.org/cgi-bin/title.cgi?83022

SELECTED PRINT VERSIONS

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories

MISCELLANY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a96p4pNd7_g
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZXNqEyDAfg
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_Ford
https://www.well-builtcity.com/
https://tinyurl.com/y7n7qwwy

2KentonSem
maig 22, 2020, 6:14pm

I was a subscriber to Space & Time way back when, but I don't have this issue. Luckily I have The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories to fall back on.

3cd96
maig 23, 2020, 8:15am

This was a strange (but very enjoyable) one. The Weird for me too.

4paradoxosalpha
maig 27, 2020, 10:58am

Darn it. I think I nominated this one, but I don't have access to the story. I thought I'd get it in The Weird from the public library, but that's not an option right now.

5KentonSem
Editat: maig 27, 2020, 12:12pm

>4 paradoxosalpha:

And I thought it was Tuesday. I'll get there...

6paradoxosalpha
maig 27, 2020, 1:12pm

Feels like Tuesday!

7KentonSem
Editat: maig 28, 2020, 10:39am

I read both of Ford's tales in The Weird, this one and "The Beautiful Gelreesh". Each features an intriguing new creature (although the Gelreesh seems inspired by the Hindu Rakshasa, also of of TV's Night Stalker fame) that takes a connoisseur's delight in devouring humans. I liked the phantasmagorical settings in each tale which are well evoked in spite of intentionally matter-of-fact descriptions of events. I haven't read the author's Well-Built City trilogy, but he has said that this story was a kind of prototype for it.

Found a decent reading:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IZXNqEyDAfg

8RandyStafford
maig 28, 2020, 10:45am

I liked this one. It was pure compressed weirdness. We get a bit of a fairy tale with the hunter's romance, vampirism of a sort, a monster, and shapeshifting.

Despite a town called Absentia "on the edge of reason", I didn't really perceive any allegory or symbolism at work.

9AndreasJ
maig 29, 2020, 5:16pm

>4 paradoxosalpha:

'Twas me who nominated it, act'ly.

I've not gotten around to re-reading it, what with my daughter's birth on Wednesday, but I quite enjoyed it when I first read it this winter.

It's the 2nd Ford story I've read, and I definitely should read more.

10KentonSem
maig 29, 2020, 5:26pm

>9 AndreasJ:

Hey - congrats! I have one of those. They're alright! :-)

11paradoxosalpha
maig 29, 2020, 6:07pm

>9 AndreasJ:

Congratulations!

I think I did read this one in a public library copy of The Weird many years back, but my memory of it is fuzzy. I've since read lots of Ford: the whole Well-Built City trilogy (which I love) as well as his short story collection A Natural History of Hell.

12AndreasJ
maig 30, 2020, 4:17am

13housefulofpaper
maig 30, 2020, 8:48pm

>9 AndreasJ:

Congratulations!

I was looking over the nominations thread (checking whether I have the next couple of weeks stories, or if they're available online) and saw your comment on this story :"A fantasmagoria from the borderlands between fairytale and nightmare. Incongruously reminded me of the decidedly unviolent "The Ice Man" we recently read" Yes I can definitely see it - the journey away from an ostensibly "normal", urban environment to a full-on fantasyland "out there", a certain detached "literary" tone to the telling of the tale. I've been in a Dracula frame of mind recently, so I particularly saw the points of resemblance with the Delicate's insinuating himself into society for some urbane vampirism, as well as changing into a dog!

I wondered if I should be reading anything into the name, such as Pharsalus, Mt al-Farabi. Perhaps they're supposed to be only half-remembered, so as to give extra depth and resonance to the story (in which case, I spoiled things by remembering that al-Farabi was an Arabic philosopher).

I wondered why the creature is called "the Delicate". It seems as if it could be immortal as long as it chooses its prey carefully (shades of the Moffat/Gatiss Dracula!) I suppose all monsters have their Achilles' Heel, fortunately (for a happy ending).

14elenchus
juny 1, 2020, 12:28pm

>9 AndreasJ:

Yes, my tardy congratulations. I'll avoid temptation to make genre-relevant observations on the parallels between one's progeny and alien parasitic lifeforms.

>8 RandyStafford: Despite a town called Absentia "on the edge of reason"

One of the things I really liked about Ford's storytelling is the wordplay. There's a lot of it, but for me it never detracts from the tone or setting. I briefly wondered about an allegory, too.

>13 housefulofpaper: all monsters have their Achilles' Heel

I don't have the story in front of me at the moment, but I understood the ending to say The Delicate somehow ingested its own "departing" life force, and so -- survived. That was a fittingly weird ending to the story, and I suppose a happy ending for the monster. Did anyone else understand it that way?

I really enjoyed the story but upon finishing, wondered if I could take a novel-length story in the same style. But I also recall being impressed by various LT reviews of Ford's novels (some I think by our own paradoxosalpha).

15housefulofpaper
juny 1, 2020, 4:50pm

>14 elenchus:

That's not quite the end of the story. After that miraculous escape it goes back to the city and goes on a spree before ingesting something that apparently does for it, and it dissolves into powder to be collected by the authorities. I think there's a possibility it could stage another resurrection in the future. That's what led to the thought I didn't manage to crystallise, that The Delicate has odd weaknesses (hence the name?) but maybe can't be completely destroyed. Like Dracula, the Wolf Man, etc.

16housefulofpaper
juny 1, 2020, 8:53pm

>15 housefulofpaper:
Once last go at getting this thought down - it occurred to me that perhaps The Delicate epitomises "the Monster" - the type of monster that can be defeated (often by the most apparently random of means) but never completely destroyed.