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Thursday, January 29, 2015

"Seven-Day Terror" by R. A. Lafferty

First appeared in Frederik Pohl's If. Reprinted in two Year’s Bests and a genre retrospective by Judith Merril, Laurence M. Janifer, Isaac Asimov, and Martin H. Greenberg.

A boy makes a disappearer with a beer can--from a cat to a fire hydrant and hats. Pieces of flesh disappear but nothing too serious. Police are sure the Willoughby family are to blame but have no proof. Eventually the cause comes to light.

This one's lighter fare than previous tales. It is what it is: A younger brother tries to take credit for his sister's invention she'd written about in her diary, and she promises more of the same in the future. However, a thing's disappearance becomes more grave as days become years.

The disappearance occurs with a beer can, and the family sells comfort in the form of liquor, so this may suggest the real-life method of disappearance. Two examples don't build an interesting interpretive case; neither do they augment other tale aspects such as the sibling rivalry or the light-hearted tone. It may be, though, that Lafferty intends for readers to read about a light situation yet project this out into serious consequences. A harmless child's game becomes sobering.

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