Thursday, April 25, 2024

The Annotated STATIONS OF THE TIDE (Part 3)



Page 21:

the suppression of Whitemarsh: This and the related witch-cults were based on the Albigensian Crusades against the Cathars.


Page 22:

the maggot in the skull: A maggot is not only a larval fly, but also a whimsical notion, derived from the folk belief that an irrational person literally had maggots in their brain.


Page 24:

the Third Unification: Of this phase of the Prosperan System’s long and tangled history, I know nothing.


Page 25:

barnacle flies: A dimorphic name: in Great Winter a barnacle and in Great Summer a fly.

Rose Hall: Rose Hall, Jamaica, is known for the legend of White Witch, Annie Palmer, a slave owner even crueler than most of her kind, who was purportedly trained in voodoo.


Page 26:

sleeve job: A crude folk joke in which the sleeve job is described as a sex act of extreme perversity and effectiveness—yet whose specific workings are never described. The term has since been appropriated for various sexual acts of greater or lesser likelihood.

Caliban: Miranda’s larger moon, inhospitable to life and used primarily to house prisons and military training camps.


Page 27:

TERMINAL HOTEL: This is an inside joke. There used to be a shabby hotel across from the Reading Terminal in Philadelphia. The sign over its door simply read TERMINAL. Gardner Dozois was once filmed crossing the street in front of the Terminal Hotel for an incidental scene in Brian de Palma’s movie, Blow Out. Unhappily, the footage ended up on the cutting room floor.


Page 29:

Two television sets were wedged in the sand, one with the sound off, and the other turned away: When I first came to Center City in Philadelphia, I couldn’t afford to buy a television. So I went out on trash day and hauled every TV set I found back to my apartment. I yanked the vacuum tubes (this was before printed circuits) and took them to Radio Shack, which had a tube tester, and bought new tubes. This resulted in two sets, one of which had good sound and the other a good image. I stacked one on top of the other and the rest went back to the curb.

Sex, magic, and television are thematic in Stations of the Tide, as intangible technologies whose main effects are achieved inside the human brain.


Page 33:

the System government: A small joke here. Prospero and its attendant planets make up the Prosperan System. But the government is the System.


Page 36:

wands and orchids: Male and female genitalia.


Page 37:

“All is pattern”: This is one of the major themes of Stations, along with the universality of change. I feel close to embarrassed for pointing out something so obvious.


Page 38:

haunts: This is the first mention of the aboriginal people who possessed Miranda before the coming of humans and the guilt for whose possible extinction haunts Mirandan society. The name is derived from the “haints” of African-American folklore.


Page 39:

Ariel: Miranda’s lesser moon.

Ararat: The resting-place of Noah’s Ark. Also the first human city on Miranda, long since abandoned and lost.




1 comment:

Raskos said...

John Fowles's novel A Maggot is concerned with the non-dipteran meaning of the word. It's the only of his novels that comes close to being science fiction (in an ambiguous way) - an apparent extraterrestrial (or possible time-travelling) vehicle is referred to by one of the characters as "a maggot" (for want of some other word to describe it, as I recall). But the word in this novel primarily refers to the mental quirk, although whether this is the author's or the characters' is left to the reader.
For what it's worth, it's the only SF-adjacent work that I know of concerned with the beginning of the Shaker movement.