Monday, January 17, 2005

Science Fiction is in the Eye of the Beholder: Eric Rohmann, Time Flies, Crown Publishers, Inc. New York, 1994.

Science fiction is what we point at. I've tried to reflect that in the questions at SF Questions. But it's more than a joke: this very flippant comment points, I think, to the possibility of an sfnal mind.

One of the issues that I think all sf writers and critics are concerned with is how to write estrangement, but what if part of the issue is the inclination to read estrangement, that there is a kind of mind that wants to feel uncomfortable and a little bit scared and to be left with a sense that there is more to be known.

It's worth taking a look at Eric Rohmann's Time Flies in this regard.

Here is what I wrote in my notes:

A very straightforward picture book which encapsulates the sense of wonder. A small bird flies through the dinosaur collection of the Natural History Museum. The colours are browns to begin with, but as the bird flies on. Greens begin to enter the picture and we see the leg of a dinosaur with what looks like muscle. As we turn over, the left hand of the dinosaur is skeleton but the right has resolves into scales and landscape. The bird now flies through a populated and lush prehistoric world—at one point chased by a pterodactyl. It explores the various dinosaurs until it gets to close and is swallowed (we see a few feathers) and as if flies back through the dinosaur’s throat, the “reader” and the bird see light at the end of the tunnel as the muscle disappears leaving skeleton behind. The final picture is ambivalent, there is a skeleton in the foreground but the background creatures are fleshed—perhaps this is an exhibit?

Then I went on a search for other comments and found this:

Time Flies by Eric Rohmann is a wordless picturebook in which a bird flies around in a dinosaur museum.  The dinosaurs seem to come to life and want to eat the small bird.  The bird was almost eaten but luckily realized that the dinsosaurs were only exhibits and were not real. (

It isn't that one reading is literal and one metaphoric, both are actually pretty literal. But my reading wanted there to be something out there and the second reading wanted comfort.


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