Monday, August 01, 2011

The Damon Knight moment

HEN Captain Midnight and I were married, a mutual friend of ours gave us a book by Damon Knight as a wedding gift. I'd never read anything by Damon Knight previously, I really didn't know what to expect, and the book blurbs didn't give much of a clue as to what the book was about, so I didn't start reading it right away. In fact, the book sat on our bookshelves for a number of years, being largely ignored and gathering dust.

Then one day, for no particular reason, I decided it was about time I had a look at this gift book. I opened it up and began to read. And as I read, I went from intrigued to annoyed to just plain angry. The premise was interesting, the writing was good, but the overall picture and the way it was playing out made no sense. And it kept on not making sense -- deliberately, I couldn't help feeling, on the author's part. Nonetheless, I'd heard good things about Damon Knight and I knew some authors make you wait until the end for the big payoff, so I saw the thing all the way through to the end. And THERE WAS NO PAYOFF. Everything just stopped with a bump. You could practically hear the author braying "HA-ha!" just offstage.

I was not angry. I was furious. In fact, I was having a full-on "quick, Robin, to the Bat-Fax!" moment, ready to provide percussive feedback to the object of my ire. I was going to email Damon Knight, Grand Master of Science Fiction and author of this dreck, and dole out a generous serving of my righteous wrath with regard to this claybrained tale he'd pawned off on some unsuspecting publisher and that I'd wasted precious hours of my limited time on earth reading.

Only I didn't get to. Because on April 15, 2002, the day I finished reading the book that so infuriated me, Damon Knight died in a hospital bed in Eugene, Oregon. I discovered this while attempting to find his email address online. The sense of freakish, chilling coincidence I felt at that moment -- and have occasionally felt since, in similar situations -- has been dubbed "the Damon Knight moment," and from what I've been able to read about Mr. Knight's personality I suppose he would have taken it as a tribute.

Still can't stand the book, though.

How about you? Had any Damon Knight moments in your life?


Helena said...

That's just freaky.

Rachel said...

I agree, freaky. I'm sure I've had some moments like that but can't seem to think of any right now.

Soozcat said...

Weird, no? And very disconcerting.