“The Other Celia,” Theodore Sturgeon, 1957

“The Other Celia,”  Theodore Sturgeon, 1957 – A recluse spies on his neighbor and discovers that she takes off her human “skin” at night.

Comments: Another story by Sturgeon about the invasion of a woman’s privacy, though “weirder” than “A Saucer of Loneliness.”  Editor Gardner Dozois states in Modern Classics of Science Fiction that Sturgeon “helped to expand the boundaries of the SF story, and push it in the direction of artistic maturity…” This story is “sly little story that follows, a vivid glimpse of the strangeness that underlies the everyday world…”

As for the “Celia” of the title, Matthew Cheney’s post on Strange Horizons regarding Leiber’s “Coming Attraction” perhaps provides a clue.  Cheney notes that “it’s a moment that reminds me of Jonathan Swift’s poem “The Lady’s Dressing Room,” where a young man named Strephon discovers that his beloved is horrifyingly human when he wanders into her dressing room and finds the panoply of items she uses to create her beauty and attractiveness, including, most horribly to him, her chamber pot:

Thus finishing his grand Survey,
Disgusted Strephon stole away
Repeating in his amorous Fits,
Oh! Celia, Celia, Celia shits!

Strephon doesn’t love Celia the human being, he loves the illusion of innocence, purity, and fragile, intricate beauty that he calls Celia.”

Author: Wikipedia: “Theodore Sturgeon (born Edward Hamilton Waldo; February 26, 1918 – May 8, 1985) was an American science fiction and horror author…In 1951, Sturgeon coined what is now known as Sturgeon’s Law: ‘Ninety percent of [science fiction] is crud, but then, ninety percent of everything is crud.’…Sturgeon was a distant relative of Ralph Waldo Emerson.”


About jennre

Lifelong sf fan, first-time blogger
This entry was posted in favorites, gender, interior/exterior, natural/artificial, simulacra, spectatorship/voyeurism, surveillance, the gaze, the Other, the uncanny, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

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