Written by Fred Patten, and intended for Apa L, 2258th Distribution, LASFS Meeting No. 3706, August 21, 2008.
Golden State Colonial Convalescent Hospital, 10830 Oxnard Street, North Hollywood, California 91606-5098.
Telephone: hospital(818) 763-8247; personal (818) 506-3159 * eMail:fredpatten@earthlink.net

Anticipation in 2009! Aussiecon IV in 2010! Salamander Press #2742


Last Tuesday my sister Sherrill went with Lee Gold to the UCRiverside Library. Sherry brought 12 boxes of fanzines, books, and other fannish materials that I had accumulated since my stroke, and Lee spent three hours being video-interviewed about filksinging.

On Sunday Sherry took me out of the hospital for the first time in about ten weeks. Unfortunately my posture has deteriorated after so long in bed, and I now have a hard time raising my head without hurting my neck. We went to see the exhibit of Cowboys & Presidents at the Gene Autry Museum, but all I could see was the bottoms of the display cases. Later we went to Sherry's apartment where I spent several hours at my computer. This does not unfortunately mean that I can resume attending LASFS meetings, although I do hope to get to the one where the Forry Award is voted on.

Another old review:

Jagger, the Dog from Elsewhere, by Alexander Key. Philadelphia, Westminster Press, October 1976, 126 pages, $6.95; ISBN: 0-664-32596-3. LC 76-12626.

Jagger is an intelligent, telepathic, pony-sized Irish wolfhound (roughly speaking) from an Edenic upper dimension. A cosmic short circuit during an electrical storm shifts him to our Earth, in upstate Alabama, where panicked hunters mistake him for some kind of monster.

Jagger is horrified to learn that on this world there is cruelty and hatred. He makes mental contact with two children, Nan and Peter, who have their own problems - they are the wards of a greedy step-aunt who is planning to murder them for their inheritance. Their only friend is a local recluse, Mr. Rush, who is willing to help them at his own risk - but his attempt to shelter Jagger gives his own enemies an excuse to accuse him of sending a beast to kill their livestock.

Jagger telepathically senses that there really is a monster in the neighborhood - apparently a creature from a third dimension yet, pulled in by the same warp that caught him - and that it is much more dangerous than anything on Earth is prepared for. Jagger's dilemma is to save the children and Mr. Rush and somehow expose or destroy the real terror, while avoiding the dragnet of armed townsfolk and vicious dogs after him. He is also faced with the problem of whether he can ever return home - or, if he can, whether he can morally abandon Nan and Peter, who will need emotional support even after they are rescued from Aunt Tess.

Jagger, the Dog from Elsewhere, is far from Alexander Key's best novel for young readers, but it contains too many good elements to be dismissed out of hand. The good characters are all very appealing, the evil ones are genuinely threatening, there is a variety of convincing personalities, and everyone is well motivated. The story line is fast-paced and fairly complex, but it is deftly handled and never becomes confusing. Most young readers will appreciate a protagonist who embodies all the best attributes of a lovable pet, a spaceman, and a guardian angel, yet is mortal enough to be in believable peril.

To be fair, what I see as the novel's main fault may be my personal prejudice. The story reeks with the 'Bambi complex'. (Salten/Disney didn't invent it, but they've done the best job of popularizing it.) All of Nature is seen as God's own happy family, spoiled only by evil Man the Hunter. Key even intimates here that the menace is less Man in general than White Anglo-Saxon Protestants, subclass Southern rednecks in particular. (Mr. Rush is very pointedly a Creek Indian.) Much of the story has an allegorical atmosphere; Jagger could as easily have been an angel accidentally tumbled from Heaven. The most unconvincing scenes are those in which Jagger mentally questions the children's horse about what humans on this world are really like, and the stallion sarcastically tells how they have turned from their wise men and healers to lawyers. Still, this Bambi complex is popular with many readers who enjoy feeling guilty about man's slaughter of cute deer and bunnies. (I suppose that if I can accept a telepathic alien dog at all, there's no reason why he can't be a vegetarian as well.)

Key has a tendency to rely upon coincidences, which he usually justifies as an unconscious use of psionic abilities by his protagonists. There's some of that here, too, but there are also a couple of Coincidences that can't be explained away as anything less than blatant deus ex machinae. One, involving the mysteriously ravening Black One, is apparently just to get in an extra swipe at Man the Trigger-Happy. The other is to provide an improbably saccharine ending to the novel. Again, readers who don't mind happy coincidences won't see anything amiss in these.

Libraries that have already found Alexander Key a popular author for the 11 to 14 age group can expect a demand for this title. Those without any Key might do better to start with his two best works, The Forgotten Door and Escape to Witch Mountain (Westminster, 1965 & 1968, both still in print). If they do well, Jagger, the Dog from Elsewhere will make a good additional purchase.

Delap's F&SF Review #24, March 1977, pages 20-21.

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-- Comments on Last Week's Distribution:

Cover - (Mayfield) Ordinarily I do not believe in reprinting covers, but I understand why this one is an exception. It is fortunate that Linda Mayfield dated her artwork. This shows that she was active in the LASFS around June 1983.

De Jueves #1596 - (Moffatts) Someone should document in Apa L the current theory of what happened to Linda Mayfield and her husband that you say is worthy of the plot of a dime novel. What is common knowledge today is an obscure reference years from now. ## My sister is Sherry. Lee Gold's sister is Sherri. ## Apparently there is also a Redmond in Washington State. My apologies for misidentifying the convention that Edd Vick attended as Corflu when it was Foolscap instead, a con for written s-f - it sounds as made for Marty Cantor as Corflu is.

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