Birthday Reviews: Craig Strete’s “Time Deer”

Birthday Reviews: Craig Strete’s “Time Deer”

Cover by Rick Sternbach
Cover by Rick Sternbach

Craig Strete was born on May 6, 1950.

Strete was nominated for two Nebula Awards in 1976 for the short story “Time Deer” and the novelette “The Bleeding Man,” both published in December of 1974. He received a third Nebula nomination in 1981 for the short story “A Sunday Visit with Great-Grandfather,” which also placed in that year’s Locus Poll. His first collection was initially published in the Netherlands with subsequent collections appearing in the United States.

He published the magazine Red Planet Earth in 1974, focusing on Native American science fiction, and his novels have been published under his own name and the pseudonym Sovereign Falconer. He is of Cherokee descent and Native American themes and characters often appear in his works.

“Time Deer” was originally published in the November 1974 issue of Worlds of If, edited by Jim Baen. Baen included it in The Best from If, Volume III and Harry Harrison and Brian Aldiss selected it for their Best SF: 1974. The story was included in Nebula Award Stories Eleven, edited by Ursula K. Le Guin. Strete included it in his collection If All Else Fails…, which was first published in Dutch. In 1986, Joseph D. Olander, Martin H. Greenberg, and Frederik Pohl picked it as a representative story for Worlds of If: A Retrospective Anthology. The story was been translated into Dutch, French, German, and Italian.

In “Time Deer” Strete takes a look at an eighty year old man whose daughter-in-law and son have decided it is time for him to enter a nursing home. Even as his son, Frank Strong Bull, has conflicted feelings about the action and Frank’s over-bearing wife, Sheila, just wants to get the man put away, he communes with his past, focusing his attention on a deer, although whether the animal is actually there or not is left up to the reader.

Although the focus of the story is the older man’s time conflation, even more interesting is Strete’s treatment, brief though it is, of Sheila’s urgency in putting him into the home, the doctor’s clinical approach, and Frank’s feeling that he needs to follow his wife’s lead even as he worries that it might not be the best thing for his father. His father’s storyline has an understated mysticism, both in his timeslippage and in his response to the decision made by his son and daughter-in-law. The story is brief and could have been strengthened by additional length and introspection.

Reprint reviewed in the anthology Nebula Award Stories Eleven, edited by Ursula K. Le Guin, Bantam Books, 1978.


Steven H Silver-largeSteven H Silver is a sixteen-time Hugo Award nominee and was the publisher of the Hugo-nominated fanzine Argentus as well as the editor and publisher of ISFiC Press for 8 years. He has also edited books for DAW and NESFA Press. He began publishing short fiction in 2008 and his most recently published story is “Doing Business at Hodputt’s Emporium” in Galaxy’s Edge. Steven has chaired the first Midwest Construction, Windycon three times, and the SFWA Nebula Conference 5 times, as well as serving as the Event Coordinator for SFWA. He was programming chair for Chicon 2000 and Vice Chair of Chicon 7. He has been the news editor for SF Site since 2002.

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Rich Horton

I liked a number of Strete’s stories back in the day. This was the December 1974 issue, right? Not November.

I believe this was the last issue of IF.

Alas, the newsstand at Alton Drugs in Naperville, IL, where I bought my first SF magazines beginning with the August 1974 Analog, Galaxy, and F&SF, did not carry IF. So I missed those last few issues.

Rich Horton

You could have reviewed ANIARA, by the Nobel Prize winning Harry Martinson!

(I know, I know, it’s not a short story, but a long poem. I found it pretty dire when I read it, but that could have been due to the translation.)

Rich Horton

The 1986 issue exists like ALIEN 3 exists! 🙂

Okay, Nov-Dec issue.

Jack Sharkey, of course is the one that leaps out at me. I think Strete the more interesting choice and the more interesting writer. Though Kilpatrick has done some nice work.

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