(urth) Short Story 27: Thou Spark of Blood
dstockhoff at verizon.net
Mon May 21 16:15:38 PDT 2012
On 5/21/2012 5:49 PM, Marc Aramini wrote:
> Thou Spark of Blood
> This was first published in If in 1970.
> SUMMARY:Gibson, Cappio, and Lorenz are ostensibly in flight to Mars
> from Moonbase, and Gibson awakes to find Cappio dead, his throat
> cut.“It was the easiest murder mystery in the universe to solve”.
> He thinks of killing Lorenz, but Lorenz awakes and they accuse each
> other.They have all come to hate each other, and Lorenz says that
> Gibson “stinks” – morally.They both have clean knives. Lorenz asserts
> that Gibson has been cracking up.The radio has not been working, and
> the deodorizer has gone out.They resolve to get rid of the body.Gibson
> asks if Mars made Lorenz kill because it breeds strife and quotes
> “Thou spark of blood, thou eye of death look’d down, thou wanderer
> image of a burning town” (which, despite the common rumors on the
> internet, I sure can’t find anywhere!)
> They try to throw Cappio’s body out but the hatch is stuck.Gibson
> instructs Lorenz to cut apart the body and put it in the disposer.As
> Lorenz starts, Gibson kills him with a knife in the neck.The disposer
> breaks from Cappio’s femur.He puts the bodies in the suits, but they
> wind up leaking anyway, and the stench begins.He discovers that
> Lorenz’ and his suits had been punctured by Cappio, and finds the
> knife Cappio used to kill himself – he would have taken everyone with
> him.He lands on Mars (according to his view port) without detecting
> any change in gravity and gets out in Cappio’s suit.
> The moonbase psychologist Dr. Mann approaches him. “ ‘When I clap you
> will remember that this is only a simulation.’ Then he smelled Gibson”
> COMMENTARY: A lonely man will become full of hate.This is the flip
> side of the rat overpopulation experiments – too many people in a
> closed space and man becomes murderous … trapped in isolation with a
> small sample group, it seems that man will also become
> unhinged.Isolation and static stimuli are going to have a deleterious
> effect whether it is simulated or real, and this inability to
> distinguish imitation from reality is pretty much all we need to say
> about this work.
> All three men were coming unhinged, though perhaps Lorenz displayed a
> bit more sanity than Gibson.The story speaks for itself in its brutal
> detail and the nasty scents of decomposition.The fact that it is only
> a simulation does not change the psychological strain and animosity
> these men develop for each other.There is very little to say about
> this, save a pretty negative view of mankind, and I do have a desire
> to clear up the oft said but hard for me to verify idea that the quote
> describing Mars is actually from Macbeth.
> NAMES: A Cappio is a noose, so this fits in with the murder/suicide
> aspect. Lorenz is derived from a laurel, Gibson is indeterminately the
> son of Gilbert. I think only the Cappio name is telling.
> ALLUSIONS: Well, the clearest allusion is actually to one of the first
> Twilight Zone episodes, in which a test astronaut cracks up in
> solitary and hallucinates that he is alone in the world “where is
> everybody?Where is everybody?” only to be in a small test ship alone
> in practice for a manned mission in space.This is the same set up here.
> As far as Mars goes, Lorenz quotes that it causes blood lust: “Thou
> spark of blood, thou eye of death look’d down, thou wanderer image of
> a burning town.” Here’s my problem – everybody says this is from
> Macbeth.I’ll be darned if I can find that quote, summoning the
> destruction of Mars, the influence of War in the sky.Blood is a huge
> symbol in Macbeth from honor to betrayal throughout, butI can’t find
> that particular quote, and it seems like everyone just says this
> references Macbeth, but I can’t find it.
> FUTURE ECHOES:Lots of lonely and isolated crazy people in Wolfe.The
> Island stories confront this, often in tandem with mental illness.This
> is probably Wolfe’s most graphic story besides The Hero as Werewolf
> and some of the torture descriptions or cannibalism in New Sun.Once
> again, imitation can have the same result as reality.
> Next up is Slaves of Silver in Stories from the Old Hotel.
Definitely not Macbeth. Not even anything in English, I think, or we
could find it on the Interwebs. Greek, possibly.
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