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9 December 2016
‘Where Silverberg goes today, the rest of science fiction will follow tomorrow’
This month: ‘Dead as a Dodo’
Dead as a dodo! It’s a proverbial phrase that everybody knows. It means defunct, deceased, vanished, demised . . . extinct. But is the dodo destined to stay forever dead? Are there plans afoot to bring it back from extinction in all its ungainly splendor? Most of us have our first encounter with the dodo when reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Not long after Alice falls down the rabbit hole, briefly turns into a giantess, and weeps herself into a deep pool of tears, she finds herself swimming about with a little group of bedraggled creatures who have also fallen into the pool – a Mouse, a Duck, an Eaglet, a Lory (the capital letters are Lewis Carroll’s) and, yes, a Dodo. I had to go to the dictionary just now to find out what a lory is – a parrot-like Asian bird with brilliant plumage – but I have known since childhood about the dodo, because Sir John Tenniel, who did the classic illustrations for the Alice books, shows us one in an unforgettable drawing for Chapter Three: a huge, ungainly, splay-toed bird, round as a sack, with a bulging chest, short, stubby legs, and an immense head that had a black bill ending in a great snubbed hook.
You can read the rest of the column here, and find Robert Silverberg’s eBooks here – including Reflections and Refractions, a collection of his non-fiction columns. Please note: each column will remain on the site for one month only.