The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The eight previously published stories in A Touch of Sturgeon vary in plot from the concrete depiction of external action and adventure to the human-relationship-centered, inner-world fiction of psycho-logical and moral dilemmas, and to the generalized narration of evolutionary philosophy and mysticism. For example, the 1944 story “Killdozer” is an action story of eight men fighting a bulldozer run amok on an otherwise deserted island. A construction crew arrives to test innovative construction techniques by building an airfield. By destroying a temple-like creation of a prior civilization, they unwittingly release a mysterious, powerful, electromagnetic force. Sentient but destructive, it installs itself in the bulldozer that destroyed its habitat and proceeds brutally to kill the construction workers. After finding the remains of the fifth worker, “all of twelve square feet of him, ground and churned and rolled out into a torn-up patch of earth,” two of the remaining workers deduce that the entity is electromagnetic in nature, given its retreat in apparent fear from an active arc welding generator the men have. The men succeed in enticing the bulldozer to a wet area of the beach and, using water as a ground, manage to electrocute the entity.

A different type of plot, used in a majority of the stories, is the psychological and moral dilemma dramatization exemplified in “Slow Sculpture” (1970). A young woman with a malignant tumor is...

(The entire section is 487 words.)