Fiction | March 01, 1979

This story is available via the PDF link below.

On Wednesday, Hunyadi Janos, vendor of pharmaceuticals, appeared at noon on the corner of 10th and Dockery.  In his hand-made cart there was stacked in place a fair selection of the best available toilet goods.  As was his custom, he annunciated his inventory through a cone of newsprint.

“’06” by David Ohle

Featured as an Editor’s Pick, July 23, 2008:

From start to finish, David Ohle’s “’06” seems set in a familiar landscape, but one is immediately at a loss to account for that familiarity.  For only in the sense that its characters speak English and gradually reveal themselves to be unmistakably human does this tale, at first glance, retain any vestige of a known reality.  But Ohle’s scope is broad, and on the whole satirical, giving us leeway to read parallels between the social structures we know and the social warps and fissures we find on the page.  “‘06” belongs to that select group of highly literate science fiction stories that are able, miraculously, to speak to us about our lives in our own language on wildly unpredictable and fantastic terms.  Moldenke, the story’s narrator, is a small dairy farmer subsisting in a country that is falling apart from the inside at the same time that it insists upon a kind of observed civility and social hierarchy.  Cigars are “tampa nuggets”; untouchable “neutrodynes” wander the streets; striped adders are skilled at stealing goat milk; tactless theosophists start barfights: these are just a few representative examples of the way in which Ohle culls the English language in order to convey the vivid dream reality of his fictional world.  Ultimately “‘06” misses the mark as a prediction for a year we’ve already known, but the indeterminacy of the title has a built-in timelessness, and its easy to imagine young writers of fantasy and science fiction today unwittingly aping Moldenke’s countryside in an attempt to give form to 2106 or 3006.

–Ryan Haas

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