This page is a listing of male freeze scenes in books and short stories. The reason I havent produced a female version is that by and large in mainstream stories, its the guys who tend to get frozen and not the girls. There may be a perfectly logical reason for this, but I have no idea what it is.
I actually began this page several months before starting this site in May 2000. My original idea was that Id submit it to The Medusa Realm, or the now-defunct Hall of Statuary, or even post it myself as a mini-site in its own right, and update it from time to time whenever I came up with some new information. Later on I abandoned the idea because I felt that WKs ASFR Master List had more or less made it obsolete, not to mention the fact that some of the short stories mentioned herein have already been posted at various ASFR sites.
But being a hoarder, I couldnt bring myself to delete the page. While I was going through my files recently I came across it again, and I thought to myself: I spent a lot of time putting it together, and if its worth keeping its worth sharing. In any case, WKs list, like most ASFR sites, mainly deals with female stories and it can be a bit hard to find specific references to male material.
So here is The Library of Frozen Men, only two and a half years late. Hope some of you find it useful.
Whenever a story listed herein is available on-line I have included a link to it. The Freeze-Type diamonds were created by Argo Forg for the Hall of Statuary and have also been used on Studs in Stone.
More authors will be added soon, once Ive finished scanning the text, writing comments on them and formatting the entries.
Please give me your comments. I really want to know what you think of this page and the stories listed here. Also, if you know of a story or novel you think should be included - and remember, Im only looking for information about commercially-published dead tree material - please let me know.
All story and novel excerpts in this article are used for review purposes only, and are copyrighted by their respective authors and/or the publishers of the original publications in which they appeared.
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The Wager Lost by Winning First published in Fantastic magazine, April 1970
Incorporated with revisions into The Traveller in Black, Ace Books Inc., 1971
Later incorporated with further revisions, into an expanded edition: The Compleat Traveller in Black, Bluejay Books Inc., 1986
Background: The Traveller in Black is a mysterious figure who has the secret power to grant wishes, although they usually dont turn out quite the way the wishers expect. His true mission is to impose order upon the world by using up the magic that would otherwise create chaos and disorder. The following vignettes appear in the introduction to The Wager Lost by Winning, which is the third story in the sequence.
Freeze types: (1) Living Statue (magic); (2) Miscellaneous [tree] (magic)
Freeze scenes: Presented here in their entirety.
In among the ruins fools made ineffectual attempts to revive a dying cult, but their folly was footling compared to the grand insanities of the enchanter Manuus who once had taken a hand in the affairs of this city, or even of the petty tyrant Vengis, whose laziness and greed brought doom on his fellows and himself.
Ah, if only I could find the
key to this mystery! said one of them, who had bidden the traveller to share the warmth of a fire fed with leather-bound manuscripts from the ducal library. Then should I have men come to me and bow the knee, offer fine robes to bar the cold instead of shabby rags, savoury dishes instead of this spitted rat Im toasting on a twig, and nubile virgins from the grandest families to pleasure me, instead of that old hag I was stupid enough to take to wife!
As you wish, so be it, said the traveller, and knocked his staff on the altar-slab the fool was using as a hearth.
In the chill dawn that followed,
his wife went running to her neighbours to report a miracle: her husband was struck to stone, unmoving yet undead. And, because no other comparable wonder had occurred since the departure of the Quadruple God, all transpired as he had wished. His companions set him up on the stump of the great black tower and wrapped their smartest robes about him; they burned expensive delicacies on a brazier, that the scent might waft to his nostrils; and sought beautiful girls that their throats might be cut and their corpses hung before him on chain-stranded gallows - all this in strict conformance with most ancient custom.
But after a while, when their
adulation failed to bring about the favours which they begged, they forgot him and left him helpless to watch the robes fade and the fire die in ashes and the girls bodies feed the maggots until nothing was left save bare white bones.
Likewise, a packman met at Ganders Well complained in the shade of brooding Yorbeth whose taproot fed his branches with marvellous sap from that unseen spring, and said, Oh, but my lot is cruel hard! See you, each year when the snows melt, I come hither and with the proper precautions contrive to pluck leaves and fruit from these long boughs. Such growths no sun ever shone upon before! See here, a fuzzy ball that cries in a faint voice when you close your hands on it! And here too: a leaf transparent as crystal, that shows when you peer through it a scene no man can swear to identifying! Things of this nature are in great demand by wealthy enchanters.
But what irks me - and
he leaned forward, grimacing - is a matter of simple injustice. Do those enchanters plod the rocky road to Ganders Well? Do they risk death or worse to garner the contents of a heavy pack? Why, no! Thats left to me! And what I get I must dispose of for a pittance to strangers who doubtless half the time botch the conjurations they plan to build on what I bring them! Would that I knew beyond a peradventure what marvels can be wrought by using the means that I make marketable!
As you wish, sighed the traveller, so be it. He knocked with his staff on the coping of the well, and went aside to speak to Yorbeth of release - that release which he himself was coming unexpectedly to envy. For there was one sole way to comprehend the applications of what grew on this tall tree, and that was to take Yorbeths place within its trunk.
Where, trapped and furious, the packman shortly found himself, possessed of all the secret lore he had suspected, down to the use that might be made of a shred of the bark when luring Ogram-Vanvit from his lair... and powerless to exploit the knowledge for his gain.
Yorbeth, naturally, ceased to be. Heavyhearted, the traveller went on.
Comments: How ironic. The first man wishes he could start a new religion, and has his wish granted by beng turned into a living idol. The people worship him as an all-powerful god even though he cant do anything at all, least of all tell them what hes really feeling. This is obviously an idea that could inspire ASFR stories, especially if the frozen god is worshipped sexually!
L. Sprague De Camp
and Fletcher Pratt
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The Mathematics of Magic First published in Unknown magazine, August 1940
Incorporated into The Incomplete Enchanter, 1941
More recently included in The Complete Compleat Enchanter, 1989
British edition retitled The Intrepid Enchanter
Background: This is part of the Harold Shea series, in which a mid-20th-century professor and his companions have comic adventures in fantasy worlds based on literature and mythology. In this story they find themselves in the world of Edmund Spensers epic 16th-century poem The Faerie Queene.
Freeze type: Living Statue (magic)
Statue scene: While spying for good Queen Gloriana, Shea and his friend Reed Chalmers apply to become apprentices to the evil wizard Dolon in order to learn his plans. Dolon shows them around his home....
The air was stuffy inside. The first thing Shea saw was a pile of dirty dishes. Dolon was evidently not the neat type of bachelor. Beyond was an object. that made his scalp prickle. It was the life-sized nude statue of a young man, stiff, at one side of the room, emitting a faint bluish glow. It held aloft a torch, which Dolon set alight.
The enchanter noticed Sheas glance of inquiry. A former prentice of mine, he remarked. I found he was a spy from Queen Glorianas court, where a few of those high-born grandees practise a kind of magic they call white. So there he stands, with all his sensations alive and the rest of him dead. Eh, Roger? He pinched the statue playfully and laughed. Im really the best humorist in the Chapter when Im in the mood.
Shea and Chalmers are afraid they might receive the same treatment if Dolon finds out they are also spying for Gloriana. Dolon also has several captives who have been shrunk and imprisoned in bottles, and keeps a cockatrice (another name for a basilisk) that he can use to turn intruders to stone.
Comments: Well, its short but sweet. This is the only non-ASFR freeze scene Ive found in which the victim is explicitly naked. Not only that, but Dolons description and behaviour make it clear that Roger is fully conscious. Theres no suggestion that Dolon... ahem... takes advantage of Roger - the story was written in the 40s, after all, and appeared in a very conservative magazine. Even so, this story could provide a useful bit of inspiration for male-male ASFR fans.
After a couple of pages the helpless Roger is forgotten about, and the story moves on to the battle between good and evil. So we never learn whether Roger is freed, but its probably safe to assume that he and the bottle prisoners are released from their spells when (tiny spoiler) Dolon is defeated at the end of the story, along with all the other bad guys.
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The Casque of Lamont T. Yado Originally published in Asimovs SF Adventure Magazine, Vol. 1 No. 2, Spring 1979
Posted at The Legacy of Timeless Beauty Story Archive
Background: The awful pun in the title should tip the reader off as to whats going on here. Yes, its a reworking of Edgar Allen Poes The Cask of Amontillado with a science-fictional twist. In the original story, Fortunato pisses off Montresor, who invites him for a drink and then bricks him up in the wine cellar. In Milans version, Trago - the Fortunato character - is trying to get his hands on a priceless time helmet which will give him superhuman speed. The unnamed Montresor character helps him out, but only because he feels betrayed and wants revenge - which he gets by making a small adjustment to the helmet.
Asimovs SF Adventure Magazine was a short-lived companion to Isaac Asimovs Science Fiction Magazine. ASFAM sought to cash in on the success of Star Wars by publishing mainly action-oriented stories, as opposed to its more literary parent magazine. As it turned out, ASFAM only ran for four quarterly issues, while the original magazine survives to this day.
Freeze type: Timestop (machine)
Freeze scene: Trago puts on the helmet and gets a nasty surprise. (This scene just happens to take place outdoors at night, in a cemetery containing lots of memorial statues....)
His eyes were uncomprehending as flakes of volcanic glass. Muscles bunched and ground beneath his skin as he fought the terrible lethargy overcoming him. Don... un-der-stand, he slurred.
I reversed the time dilation
process. Youre slowing down, Trago, and theres nothing you can do to stop it. In a few seconds youll be motionless as a metal statue. But awake, aware of every endless instant. I gave him a feral grin. He tried futilely to snatch the helmet off, then swiped at me, slow as ages, as forgiving. I dodged without effort.
Youll seem to be a statue - one among many. One more monument to the dead. My dead.... I hope they melt you down for scrap, Trago, I said. Think pleasant thoughts, iron man, Tracer, whoreson bastard.
Tragos last words - For the love of Tracergod, mon! - are a truly, truly horrible pun on Fortunatos For the love of God, Montresor! Milan only escapes lynching because the story has a good freeze scene.
Comments: I hope they dont melt Trago down. I happen to like stories in which the frozen person is mistaken for a real statue. Id like to think that Trago would be kept on display forever.
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Over the decades Moorcock has written several freeze scenes, although most of them have been disappointingly short.
The Sword of the Dawn, 1969
The third in the Hawkmoon series. The series has also appeared as an omnibus volume.
Background: In the far future Europe is under attack from the tyrannical Empire of Granbretan (!), with its advanced scientific sorcery.
Freeze type: Timestop (machine)
Freeze scene: In a brief interlude from the war two of the Empires warrior-barons pay a visit to the workshop of Taragorm, a scientist obsessed with the study of time....
Even as Meliadus watched, there would come a flash of purple light from one part of the hall, a shower of green sparks from another, a gout of scarlet smoke from elsewhere. He saw a black machine crumble to dust and its attendant cough, tumble forward into the dust and vanish.
And what was that? came a laconic voice from nearby. Meliadus turned to see that Kalan of Vitall, Chief Scientist to the King-Emperor, was also visiting Taragorm.
An experiment in accelerated time, said Taragorm We can create the process, but we cannot control it Nothing, so far, has worked. See there... he pointed to a large ovoid machine of yellow, glassy substance. that creates the opposite effect and again, unfortunately, cannot be controlled as yet. The man you see beside it, he indicated what Meliadus had taken to be a lifelike statue (some mechanical figure from a clock being repaired), has been frozen thus for weeks!
Comments: Disappointingly, we never hear any more about this fascinating experiment, although in later volumes there are a couple of very brief second-hand descriptions of people being frozen for hours or years by Taragorms techno-sorcery. As for the man by the yellow machine, we never find out whether he is conscious or not. Even more frustratingly we never find out if hes good-looking...or if hes naked! Of course Id like to think the answer to all of these questions is yes, and that hes still there, long after the war is over....
The Knight of the Swords, 1971
The first book of the Chronicles of Prince Corum of the Scarlet Robe, aka the First Corum Trilogy, which has also appeared as an omnibus volume.
Background: In order to restore peace and order to the Fifteen Planes, Prince Corum, last of his race, must defeat the three Sword Rulers - the gods Arioch, Xiombarg and Mabelode of Chaos. To assist him in this, his missing left hand (severed by a sadistic warlord) has been replaced by the Hand of Kwll - the former appendage of another god. In order to banish Arioch Corum must destroy his heart. But just to be awkward, Arioch doesnt keep his heart in his chest, but in an undisclosed secure location....
Freeze type: Living Statues (magic)
Freeze scene: In the books closing pages, Corum finds what hes looking for, and more besides...
On the platform was a dais. On the dais was a plinth and on the plinth was something that throbbed and gave forth rays.
Transfixed by these rays were several Mabden [human] warriors. Their bodies were frozen in attitudes of reaching for the source of the rays, but their eyes moved as they saw Corum approach the dais. Pain was in those eyes, and curiosity, and a warning.
The thing on the plinth was a deep, soft blue and it was quite small and it shone and it looked like a jewel that had been fashioned into the shape of a heart. At every pulse, tubes of light shot forth from it.
This could only be the Heart of Arioch.
But it protected itself, as was evident from the frozen warriors surrounding it.
Corum took a pace nearer. A beam of light struck his cheek and it tingled.
Another pace nearer and two more beams of light hit his body and made it shiver, but he was not frozen. And now he was past the Mabden warriors. Two more paces and the beams bombarded his whole head and body, but the sensation was only pleasant. He stretched out his right hand to seize the heart, but his left hand moved first and the Hand of Kwll gripped the Heart of Arioch.
The world seems full of fragments of Gods, Corum murmured. He turned and saw that the Mabden warriors were no longer frozen. They were rubbing at their faces, sheathing thelr swords.
The newly unfrozen men join Corum to help defeat Ariochs minions. Corum destroys the heart and Arioch is banished, to general cheering.
Comments: We never find out how long the warriors had been frozen, but at most it could have been several years. However, this scene serves as something of a taster for whats to come in the next volume:
The Queen of the Swords, 1971
The second book of the Chronicles of Prince Corum of the Scarlet Robe, aka the First Corum Trilogy, which has also appeared as an omnibus volume.
Background: Continuing their quest against the Sword Rulers, Corum and his companions enter the realm of King Noreg-Dan, now the King Without a Country since its conquest by Queen Xiombarg and the forces of Chaos a hundred years before.
Freeze type: Living Statues (magic)
Freeze scene: In the century since the fall of Noreg-Dans country, time has stood still in, the sense that nobody ever ages. But for one group of soldiers the phrase has a much more literal meaning...
Jhary shook the reins, turned the chariot, and soon it had bounced through the leprous forest and was rolling down a hill towards a valley full of what seemed to be upright, slender stones.
They were not stones. They were men.
Each man a warrior - each warrior frozen like a statue, his weapons in his hands.
This, said Noreg-Dan in quiet awe, is the Frozen Army. The last army to take arms against Chaos...
Was this its punishment? Corum asked.
Jhary, gripping the reins, said: They live? Is that so? They know that we pass through their ranks?
Aye. I heard that Queen Xiombarg said that since they supported Law so wholeheartedly they should have a taste of what Law aimed for - they should know the ultimate in tranquillity, Noreg-Dan said.
Rhalina shivered. Is this really what Law comes to?
So Chaos would have us believe, Jhary said. But it matters not, for the Cosmic Balance requires equilibrium - something of Chaos, something of Law - so that each stabilizes the other. The difference is that Law acknowledges the authority of the Balance, while Chaos would deny it. But Chaos cannot deny that authority completely for its adherents know that to disobey some things is to be destroyed. Thus Queen Xiombarg dare not enter the Realm of another Great Old God and, as in the case of your Realm, must work through others. She, like the rest, must also watch her dealings with mortals, for they cannot be destroyed by her willy-nilly - there are rules...
But no rules to protect these poor creatures, Rhalina said.
Some. They have not died She has not killed them.
Corum remembered the tower where he had found Ariochs heart. There too had been frozen men.
Note: First Comics produced an adaptation of this book in around 1986 (Im too lazy to go and check the exact date), but they completely blew this scene. They only showed about half a dozen frozen men - some Army! - and they were only ever seen from a distance. Waste of a brilliant opportunity. First Comics went bust not long after. Fancy that.
Although Corum and his party encounter Xiombarg soon afterward, shes apparently too dim to think of freezing them too, and so she ends up getting defeated by them, followed by Mabelode in the third volume. As for the Army, they are still frozen by the time the scene ends, but presumably they are released after Xiombarg is banished and some god of Law takes her place.
Comments: In terms of sheer numbers this is the biggest freeze scene ever. Moorcock doesnt say how big the Army is, but remember, they fill an entire valley, so Im guessing there must be thousands. Apparently theyre all foot-soldiers, since no mention is ever made of horses. Although I have no military experience, Id suggest that being frozen for a hundred years was a perfectly viable alternative to dying in battle!
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A Place of Honor Originally published in Isaac Asimovs Science Fiction Magazine, May 1995
Background: According to the magazine blurb, Pat Murphy took the inspiration from this story from a Sherpa legend while trekking around Nepal. Its a pity they didnt give more details of the legend to compare with the story...
Freeze type: Solid statue (magic)
The Story: In the mountains of Nepal a Sherpa meets a sorcerer and asks him to tell his newborn sons fortune. The sorcerer replies that the boy will either grow up to be a strong, happy farmer, or grow up to occupy a place of honor in the Kings court.
Not surprisingly, the Sherpa ignores the part about his son becoming a farmer and begins grooming him as best he can for the nobility.
The boy, Kira, grows up to be handsome but spoilt and arrogant. One day he encounters the sorcerer who is on his way to the king to show him some priceless jewels. When Kira asks the sorcerer where the jewels came from the sorcerer claims to have found them. Kira follows the sorcerer to try and learn the truth, and is astonished to see the sorcerer turning butterflies into gems by throwing his cloak over them.
Freeze scene: Kira steals the magic cloak while the sorcerer sleeps and ses out to catch butterflies and dragonflies with it. But of course, he just gets a little too greedy....
A beautiful butterfly flitted past him. Wings of midnight black marked with steely blue; a wing span as wide as his hand was long. He could not imagine what gem such a butterfly would become. He had to have it.
The butterfly fluttered across the path and then, as he prepared to toss the cloak, flew away over the terraced field. He shook the cloak three times and turned toward the insect, determined to capture it. As he turned, his foot slid off the trail and he fell. His arms flailed as he tried to keep his balance, and the cloak slipped from his grasp. He twisted, falling over backward, his arms extended. And the cloak floated down over him, enveloping him from head to foot.
The Bonpo sorcerer, perched on a rock wall on the edge of the field, watched it all. He had taken the form of a raven and followed Kira along the trail. The birds croaking sounded very much like human laughter. A few minutes later, the Bonpo flew over the field, swooping low to pick up the cloak. Then he headed north, having other business to attend to.
Later that day, the farmer found a statue in his field, half sunk in the moist soil. The statue was a handsome young man, carved from a single piece of onyx. The eyes were polished agate, rich and brown. The lips were coral, the teeth were pearl. The figure held out its hands, as if reaching for something that was infinitely desirable.
And so of course the mysterious statue is taken to the King....
The farmer - with the aid of a water buffalo and two neighbors - lifted the statue from the field. Later, he sold it to a passing trader
who, recognizing its value, transported it to Kathmandu, where he sold it to a merchant who presented it to the King. The King, who was an admirer of art as well as a collector of precious gems, accepted the gift with great praise for its workmanship.
What can you tell me about the artist? the King asked. Or about the young man who modeled for the statue?
The merchant bowed his head, grateful that the King was pleased with this gift. But he could say nothing of its origin. He told the King that the statue came to him from a trader and he did not know where the artist or the model lived.
Thats a pity, the King said, still studying the statue. This young man has such a look of longing in his eyes. Such eagerness and desperation. I wonder what he wants so badly. Whatever it is, if it were in my power, I would grant it to him.
Your majesty is generous, the merchant murmured. You are too kind.
The King placed the statue in the throne room, a place of great honor. And all who came to petition the King remarked on its lifelike quality.
Comments: So Kira gets his place of honor and ends up with more wealth than he could ever spend! Murphy doesnt say whether he remains conscious as a statue, but Id like to think he does.
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Wait it Out First published in Futures Unbounded (anthology), 1968
Reprinted in Tales of Known Space, Ballantine 1975
Background: Between 1979 and 1999 the planet Pluto was closer to the Sun than Neptune. This is the story of the 1989 Pluto mission that never was, as told by the master of technological science fiction.
In retrospect, the story was way too optimistic about space exploration. In real life, more than a decade after the storys date, we havent even put a man on Mars. And the story was written in 1968, long before it was discovered that Pluto had a moon, which was named Charon. Obviously if Niven had known about Plutos moon hed have mentioned it in the story.
Freeze type: Ice (extreme low-temperature environment)
The Story: Disaster strikes the first manned Pluto expedition: two astronauts are stranded on the surface when their landing craft malfunctions. Theres nothing they can do but wait for the end, while their grieving colleague in orbit has no choice but to return home alone. One of the stranded men walks out onto the ice and takes off his helmet. Seeing him frozen gives the surviving man an idea: cryogenics!
In Nevada, three billion miles from
here, half a million corpses lie frozen in vaults surrounded by liquid nitrogen. Half a million dead men wait for an earthly resurrection, on the day medical science discovers how to unfreeze them safely, how to cure what was killing each one of them, how to cure the additional damage done by ice crystals breaking cell walls all through their brains and bodies.
Half a million fools? But what choice did they have? They were dying.
I was dying.
And so our hero comes up with the bright idea of stripping out of his spacesuit so that Plutos cold will preserve him until the next mission arrives. But thanks to a Niven-style quirk of physics he finds that his brain isnt completely frozen.
A superconductor is what I am.
Sunlight raises the temperature too high, switching me off like a damned machine at every day. But at night my nervous system becomes a superconductor. Currents flow; thoughts flow; sensations flow. Sluggishly. The one hundred and fifty-three hours of Plutos rotation flash by in what feels like fifteen minutes*. At that rate I can wait it out.
I stand as a statue and a viewpoint
No wonder I cant get emotional about anything. Water is a rock here, and my glands are contoured ice within me. But I feel sensations: the pull of gravity, the pain in my ears, the tug of vacuum over every square inch of my body. The vacuum will not boil my blood. But the tensions are frozen into the ice of me, and my nerves tell me so. I feel the wind whistling from my lips; like an exhalation of cigarette smoke.
This is what comes of not wanting
to die. What a joke if I got my wish.
*I. E., he feels time passing around 600 times faster than normal.
Comments: Will our hero ever be rescued? I cant help suspecting (or hoping) that Earth would presume him dead, call off the manned Pluto programme completely and leave him there for eternity.
If you dont try to analyse the science too closely this is a pretty good freeze story and a possible inspiration for other authors...like me. My story Mist in Stone was inspired by the notion of being frozen solid forever, although as the title suggests I froze my character in stone instead of ice.
Margaret St Clair
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Thirsty God First published under the name Idris Seabright in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, March 1953 (the magazine continues to this day.)
Also published under St Clairs real name in Change the Sky and Other Stories, Ace Books Inc., 1974
Posted on this sites Male Story Archive
Background: Science fiction writers had long portrayed Venus as a slightly wetter and hotter sister of Earth, and Mars as a dying but inhabitable desert world. In fact by the time this story was published these clichés had already been disproved by astronomers, and space probes in the 1970s put the final nails in their coffins.
Venus turns out to be a hellish greenhouse planet, hotter than an oven, with a crushing, corrosive atmosphere, while Mars is a cold dustbowl with arctic temperatures and an atmosphere too thin to support life, although some scientists still hope to find evidence that primitive life like bacteria once flourished there.
Sigh. So long, Martian canals and Venusian swamps. Been nice knowing you - but Im very glad you inspired this story before you went!
Freeze type: Living Statue (biological transformation by machine)
The Story: Human explorer Brian rapes a purple-skinned Hrothy female on Venus and flees the wrath of her family. A small shrine seems to offer refuge; his pursuers dont follow. But the shrine is really an ancient machine, designed to modify the bodies of Martians (who are now extinct) so they could live on Venus. While Brian sleeps the machine, which doesnt realise hes not a Martian, goes to work on him. When Brian wakes up, he finds hes grown to nine feet tall. He quite likes the idea of being a giant. Unfortunately there are other side effects, as Brian discovers after another short nap.
This time it was late afternoon when he awoke. It was raining hard. Without moving from his sitting position, he peered out of the sanctuary, noting absently as he did so that this back seemed somewhat stiff.
The Hrothy were gone. There wasnt a sign of them in the damp landscape, not even a used beetla stick or a clot of rox dung. It was probably a trap; they must be lurking in the neighborhood. Or they might have gone back to the village for reinforcements. Brian grinned. He didnt think hed be fooled easily. He decided to get up.
He tried to move: nothing happened. Well, he had been in a cramped position for a long time. His legs must have gone to sleep.
Once more he gave his body the
order. Once more nothing happened. Brian licked his lips nervously. Was he paralyzed? What was the matter with him? He began to be really frightened. It was at this point that a plunp came in.
The plunp is a hideous, primitive creature whose body has become waterlogged by the Venusian rainfall. Brian is horrified to discover that the plunp can force his transformed body to absorb its moisture. This process, which goes on for hours, is immensely satisfying to the plunp, but nauseating and degrading to Brian. Almost like rape, in fact. There is no escape. Brian is thoroughly helpless.
Oh, odious. An odious service
performed for an odious being. And it felt, somehow, self-destructive, for all Brians need of moisture. It felt as if Brian, in his new body, had not been quite designed for it. In the contact with the plunp, he was like a plant which, in default of sulphur in its soil, must perforce absorb selenium. He felt almost as if he were poisoning himself....
To the plunp, he was a delightfully
hygroscopic god. To himself, he was a man afflicted with a peculiarly horrid curse.
The plunp went away at last, its skin hanging in lank folds. It staggered a little as it went over the threshold, as if it were drunk. It had left the empty areda nut behind it. Brian watched it weaving away through the pouring sheets of rain.
He couldnt move; he couldnt even wriggle. His back had grown completely stiff. He wasnt sure how he was breathing. But he was sure of one thing: he wasnt going to draw water from a plunp again.
Next time a group of plunp arrives Brian makes a heroic effort to resist, but to no avail. They have a kind of incense which can force him to absorb moisture even more quickly and painfully. He
learns his lesson. From now on he will meekly allow the plunp to use him for their pleasure.
When, months later, the dry season sets in and the plunp go away, Brian finds himself shrinking. He thinks hes dying and will soon be free... but hes wrong. Hes just going to sleep for
the summer. When the rainy season returns his nightmare will start all over again.
Comments: This is one of the few stories in which we know what the frozen character is thinking and feeling, and to my mind, that alone makes it worth the price of admission.
We never find out what happens to Brians clothes. They must become painfully tight when he becomes a giant. Presumably if he hasnt discarded them before becoming frozen, he eventually shrinks out of them.
Brian obviously isnt the first victim of the alien shrines. In fact the plunp seem to have a lot of experience with thirsty gods. Over the years there might have been hundreds, or even thousands of them...!
The treatment Brian receives from the plunp is a kind of poetic justice for raping the purple girl, but because the story was published in the 50s, St. Clair had to use a non-sexual metaphor for his rape.
So then I thought to myself: what if there were hundreds of victims, and they were all naked, and the treatment the aliens gave them was sexual?
And the result, for better or worse, is my own Flotsam series, mainly featuring female sexuality but also including Flotsam: Male Remix, in which the paralysed Jenarr and Alainn face a long, hard future...!
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The Green Pearl Underwood-Miller 1985, Berkley 1986 (aka Lyonesse II: The Green Pearl)
Background: Jack Vances witty, ironic and highly literate style has been enriching science fiction and fantasy since the 1950s. His epic Lyonesse Trilogy tells of the life and loves of the rulers of the legendary Elder Isles which lay to the south of Ireland before their inundation.
Freeze type: Living Statue (magic)
Freeze scene: Throughout the books opening chapter the green pearl, a gem containing the essence of an evil sorcerer, passes from person to person, causing death and destruction as it goes by inspiring each of its owners to commit evil acts. At last it falls into the possession of Manting, an executioner who has hitherto performed his task diligently but rather unimaginatively. Under the influence of the pearl, however, his style undergoes a dramatic change.
Thereafter, all who watched Manting declared that they had never seen the executioners work done with more grace and attention to detail, so at times Manting and the condemned man seemed participants in a tragic drama that set every heart to throbbing; and at last... there was seldom a dry eye among the spectators.
Unfortunately for Manting, the victim of one of his more involved executions happens to be the witch Zanice, lover of Qualmes the sorcerer. Qualmes pretends friendship with Manting, in order to avenge Zanices death.
Qualmes took Manting deep into the Forest of Tantrevalles along an obscure trail known as Ganions Way, and led him few yards off the trail into a little glade.
Qualmes asked: Manting, how do you like this place?
Manting, still wondering as to the
reason for the expedition, looked all about. The air is fresh. The verdure is a welcome change from the dungeons. The flowers yonder add to the charm of the scene.
Qualmes said: It is fortunate that you are happy here, inasmuch as you will never leave this place.
Manting smilingly shook his head.
Impossible! Today I find myself at leisure, and this little outing is truly pleasant, but tomorrow I must conduct two hangings, a strappado and a flogging.
You are relieved of all such
duties, now and forever. Your treatment of Zanice has aroused my deep emotion, and you must pay the penalty of your cruelty. Find yourself a place to recline, and choose a comfortable position, for I am imposing a spell of stasis upon you, and you will never move again.
Manting protested for several
minutes, and Qualmes listened with a smile on his face. Tell me, Manting, have any of your victims made similar protests to you?
Now that I think of it: yes.
And what would be your
I always replied that, by the
very nature of things, I was the instrument, not of mercy, but of doom. Here, of course, the situation is different. You are at once the adjudicator, as well as the executioner of the judgement, and so you are both able and qualified to consider my petition for mercy, or even outright pardon.
The petition is denied. Recline, if you will; I cannot chop logic with you all day.
Manting at last was forced to recline on the turf, after which Qualmes worked his spell of paralysis and went his way.
Manting lay helpless day and night, week after week, month after month, while weasels and rats gnawed at his hands and feet, and hornets made their lodges in his flesh, until nothing remained but bones and the glowing green pearl, and even these were gradually covered under the mold.
And thus the green pearl can, at least for a time, work no further mischief.
Comments: The manner of Mantings demise should please anybody who enjoys stories in which the frozen body is eroded away or wears out. Thats not exactly to my taste, but the quality of Vances large body of writing more than makes up for the shortcomings of his one and only freeze scene.
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