Birthday Reviews: D.G. Compton’s “In Which Avu Giddy Tries to Stop Dancing”

Birthday Reviews: D.G. Compton’s “In Which Avu Giddy Tries to Stop Dancing”

Cover by Edward Miller
Cover by Edward Miller

D.G. (David Guy) Compton was born on August 19, 1930.

Compton’s 1971 novel The Steel Crocodile was nominated for the Nebula Award, and in 2007 he was named Author Emeritus by the SFWA. In addition to writing science fiction, Compton also writes Gothic novels and crime novels. Compton has used variations of his own name, and has also published using the pseudonym Frances Lynch. Compton collaborated with John Gribbin on the novel Ragnarok.

“In Which Avu Giddy Tries to Stop Dancing” appeared in Starlight 3, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden in 2001. It is Compton’s most recent science fiction short story, and has not been reprinted.

The characters in Compton’s “In Which Avu Giddy Tries to Stop Dancing” live in a world where it is illegal not to dance, although Compton never fully describes what life is like in a world in which everyone dances as they go about their private lives. Instead, he looks at Avu Giddy’s decision to set himself apart from the law-abiding masses and the effects it has on his relationships, none of which were particularly good to begin with.

Avu’s main relationship for the purposes of the story is with the narrator. Although the narrator doesn’t particularly like Avu, the two are of a similar age and have known each other a long time, having grown comfortable in each other’s presence. They work relatively close to each other and meet for lunch in a park with some regularity. When Avu makes his decision to quit dancing, the narrator is dragged into the situation by Avu’s estranged daughters, Jenna and Karen who sought his help in talking sense to their father.

Jenna, who had a husband and children of her own, was mostly concerned with the perception people would have of the family with such an out-law father, while single Karin, who only recently left Avu’s house, firmly believed her father had made his decision with the sole purpose of embarrassing her.

The truth of Avu’s decision is based more on his innate contrariness linked with a variety of physical ailments, real or perceived. The desire not to dance is so great in Avu that he takes drastic measures to ensure that he is incapable of doing so, attempting to force his daughters and friend to accept his choice. The story is an indictment of laws that are passed for no apparent purpose while not quite being a celebration of individuality. Avu does not take any joy in his act of defiance, which would have elevated him more to the rank of a libertarian hero.

Reviewed in its original appearance in the anthology Starlight 3, edited by Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Tor Books, 2001.

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 6 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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