(3) Thu Dec 22 2005 20:00 PST Retief: To what extent do you think Keith Laumer's Retief stories are good clean biting social satire, and to what extent are they reactionary claptrap? The question comes to my mind as I prepare to save space by parting with my nearly-complete Retief collection. Also because there's a new, post-Laumer book in the franchise called Retief's Peace, which looks a little closer to the reactionary side. I still plan to read it eventually, despite Sumana's continuing amazement that I can stand to read Retief stories at all.
I never realized they were either, but then I read them as a child. I don't remember much from them, except the line "elevate your manipulative digits above your sensory clod" and that there was one story in which eyes and noses hopped around and formed themselves into godlike beings.Also, his sidekick was thin but I thought he was fat for the longest time.
Posted by Leonard at Fri Dec 23 2005 12:52
I read some as a child and didn't understand them at all.If anything, the rules of comedy would dictate that Retief be the fat one, since he is the id to Magnan's superego.
They're neither. They're autobiographical; translated into a science fiction environment, and often showing the practical solution he would have preferred instead of the broken "solution" actually used, but they are the truth. Laumer worked as a diplomat, before moving on to an honorable profession.If anyone is bothered by anything in Retief, it is because they do not properly understand the world they live in.