A Woman of the Axe-Grinder People

A Woman of the Axe-Grinder People

by Mary Stolzenbach

(from “On the Road” in Butterbur’s Woodshed)

Newie had decided to become an apprentice to Huie. Huie was a breaker. She was getting old, though, and complained of her lack of strength. Usually Newie had to bring in the materials for Huie’s work, as she had done today.

“Very well, Newie, now you place the balls in the clamp, so, and twist the handle, hard, so.”

Hu!” said Newie, impressed. “Listen to him yell.”

“Yes,” said Huey, “I know, but it is quite necessary. Otherwise they are very troublesome, especially in the spring.”

Newie made the gesture for “That is very interesting, and we must gesticulate about it more in the future, when we have the time to really sit down and gesticulate; but right now I am too worried about my hair, I just can’t do a thing with it. Which is serious, when you belong to our race.”

Huey made to herself the sign for, “Just as well she doesn’t want to gesticulate, because I can sure get bored with somebody who is such a gloomy gus, especially two volumes worth of her.”

But it isn’t that. What is it, then?
Well, it isn’t fantasy, and it isn’t mythopoeic. Apart from that, as General Schwarzkopf said, it’s a fine book. Repeat after me, children:

“Just because a book has myths in it, that doesn’t make it mythopoeic.”

These were good myths, I thought, but perhaps not alien enough. They could have come out of any can of Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Myth soup, Native American or African flavor.
Of all the characters I liked best that lovable klutz, the 0racIe

Queries and Quibbles …

I was surprised that no one (especially Derek) tried interspecies sex, especially since sex seemed to be about as significant as washing one’s hands. The Inklings wouldn’t have liked that.
I doubt if it’s really that easy to pursue a demanding trade or skill, and feed, clothe and house children in a non-industrial economy, even granted that it’s easier to raise children in a village setting. Another case of the Jondelaar Syndrome?
And is Arnason a lousy prophet who started her book a long time ago, or does she still think Marxism is gonna win out?