Carol Emshwiller: An Appreciation by L. Timmel Duchamp (2003)

This essay first appeared in the WisCon 27 Souvenir Book.

Souvenir-Book appreciations are typically written by friends and long-time associates of a con’s Guests of Honor and usually focus on the GoH’s personal and professional biography. Since I have had the pleasure of meeting Carol Emswhiller personally only once, I will focus instead on my many years’ relationship with a single aspect of the person who is Carol Emshwiller, viz., that mysterious presence readers sense lurking within or perhaps behind the texts of her stories and novels, a presence generally known as the "author." This relationship between a single reader and the particular presence of an author, although seemingly abstract and impersonal, is in practice a deeply intimate one. It is also an extremely privileged relationship, since only a relatively few authors’ texts create a sense of that mysterious, very particular presence with which readers so delight in engaging. I recognized and engaged with that presence the first time I read a Carol Emswhiller story, a presence that so intrigued and teased and dialogued with me that the author went at once onto what I call my "magic" list of must-buy authors whose work I’m always on the lookout for.


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