This comprises two thematically similar stories: one with a thinly disguised version of Winnie the Pooh (here called ‘The Bear’), the other with the cast of the Wind in the Willows. And both stories take their whimsical characters out of their cozy settings and into a far more unpleasant real world. As Howard Waldrop says in the introduction, “What happens to them… is exactly like what would happen to them if their original authors had been afforded glimpses fifty or sixty years into the future…”

What makes this so effective is that Effinger mimics the voices of the characters perfectly. Bear’s thoughts, in particular, strike just the right note of hilarious whimsy, capturing the plodding considerations of a Bear with little but honey and a neat little adventure on the brain. Consider the opening:

It was one of those warm, summery afternoons where you know that Something Grand is going to happen, but the only problem is whether you ought to go out to meet it or not, or wait around your house to be pleasantly surprised. Waiting around the house has its points, for you can always say, “Yes, well, perhaps it would be better, if Something Grand is to happen today, to me, here, it may be better to Have A Bit Of A Snack just in case. In case Something Grand does happen, so that I won’t be left All At Sea, as it were.”

And as the title foretells, neither of these stories end well.

Two Sadnesses by George Alec Effinger

Availability: print only

Word count: 6,100

First published: Bad Moon Rising, edited by Thomas M. Disch, 1973, Harper & Row

Where to find it: George Alec Effinger Live! From Planet Earth, collection, 2005,Golden Gryphon

Modern Classics of Fantasy, edited by Gardner Dozois, 1997, St Martin’s Press

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s