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Ebook On Wings of Song by Thomas M. Disch read! Book Title: On Wings of Song
The author of the book: Thomas M. Disch
Edition: Carroll & Graf Publishers
Date of issue: December 1st 1988
ISBN: 0881844438
ISBN 13: 9780881844436
Loaded: 2142 times
Reader ratings: 6.5
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 513 KB
City - Country: No data

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Thomas Disch is, in my humble opinion, the most underrated author of the last 50 years, and a reasonable number of people consider this to be his best novel. You'll gather that it's quite good. I read it not long after it came out, and have re-read it a couple of times since then.

Like many of Disch's books, Wings uses an SF framework to make a point about society and religion. In his dystopian future US, life has been transformed by the invention of a device which, in principle, allows anyone to have a transcendental spiritual experience. You hook yourself up to the machine, and sing in a particular way. Somehow, the singing brings the two halves of your brain into perfect balance, and the machine does the rest: it liberates your astral projection, which is then free to depart where it will. The body is left alive, but without consciousness, and needs to be tended. Usually, the spirit returns to its body after a few days, but some spirits never return.

The invention has split the country, roughly down the red/blue faultline. In some states, everything that has to do with music is strictly forbidden. In others, people believe that access to "flying", as it is called, is an inalienable right. The hero has a complicated life, living in both types of environment. He starts off in repressive Iowa, where flying is an illegal activity, but later moves to New York, where it's permitted. He wants to learn to fly, but it doesn't quite work for him. He does all the right things, he takes singing lessons from masters, but despite all his efforts he can't liberate his astral projection.

He does, however, become a gifted singer. He starts giving concerts, where he is hooked up to a flying rig. He pretends he's flying to please his fans, who are taken in. One day, at a concert, a deranged religious fanatic shoots him while he is hooked up to the rig, and the display is showing him flying. He's instantly killed.

The story is told in a low-key, matter-of-fact way, and another reviewer here complains that it isn't as overtly brilliant as Camp Concentration and 334. That's true. But I've thought about it, on and off, ever since I first read it. Surely "flying" must symbolize something, but what? Is it drugs? sex? alternative lifestyles? spiritual growth in general? Somehow, I can't put my finger on it. Nothing quite seems to fit.

And what does the ending mean? That if we keep putting off the truly important thing, one day we'll suddenly discover it's too late? That he finally managed to fly for real, and that's exactly when he was killed? That no one except him ever knew whether he was faking as usual during his last performance, or whether he did have the experience he'd been seeking all his life?

I thought about these questions again today, while we were having a walk, and as usual I couldn't decide.

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Ebook On Wings of Song read Online! Poet and cynic, Thomas M. Disch brought to the sf of the New Wave a camp sensibility and a sardonicism that too much sf had lacked. His sf novels include Camp Concentration, with its colony of prisoners mutated into super-intelligence by the bacteria that will in due course kill them horribly, and On Wings of Song, in which many of the brightest and best have left their bodies for what may be genuine, or entirely illusory, astral flight and his hero has to survive until his lover comes back to him; both are stunningly original books and both are among sf's more accomplishedly bitter-sweet works.

In recent years, Disch had turned to ironically moralized horror novels like The Businessman, The MD, The Priest and The Sub in which the nightmare of American suburbia is satirized through the terrible things that happen when the magical gives people the chance to do what they really really want. Perhaps Thomas M. Disch's best known work, though, is The Brave Little Toaster, a reworking of the Brothers Grimm's "Town Musicians of Bremen" featuring wornout domestic appliances -- what was written as a satire on sentimentality became a successful children's animated musical.

Thomas M. Disch committed suicide by gunshot on July 4, 2008.

Reviews of the On Wings of Song


After this book, I look at the world with different eyes!


Why do they ask for a phone?


Another one-time book, but it was interesting.


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