Emil Petaja was born on April 12, 1915 and died on August 17, 2000.
Petaja published thirteen novels and more than 150 short stories. His Otava series, beginning with the novel Saga of Lost Earths, is based on the Finnish epic the Kalevala. Petaja was a close friend of artist Hannes Bok and founded the Bokanalia Foundation, which included a small art press, in 1967. He published three portfolios of Bok’s work as well as a commemorative volume. He was also the chairman of the Golden Gate Futurians, a San Francisco based science fiction club for professionals and fans. He was named the first Author Emeritus by SFWA in 1994.
“Found Objects” was originally published in Petaja’s collection Stardrift and Other Fantastic Flostsam in 1971, published by William L. Crawford’s Fantasy Publishing Company. Robin Wayne Bailey chose the story as one of five stories to represent Petaja in Architects of Dreams: The SFWA Author Emeritus Anthology, which covered the first five Author Emeriti named by SFWA.
Set in a contemporary San Francisco, “Found Objects” revolves around a party for a group of amateur artists as one of their number, the benefactor Triptich, is planning on departing San Francisco. He tells one of the guests, Jack Clay, that the purpose of the party is to help all of the attendees achieve a crest in their lives, a moment of perfect enjoyment before he has to leave, a concept which dovetailed neatly with thoughts Jack had while driving to the party.
Jack and his wife Mab don’t see eye to eye on things. Jack just wants to do his own thing and move forward, while Mab likes to make life as difficult for those around her as possible, making a big show at the end to draw attention to herself. Her actions are passive-aggressive and for the purposes of Triptich’s party take the form of a refusal to wear the clothing he selected for her and then to disappear once she is at the party.