H(esba) F(ay) Brinsmead Margery Fisher - Essay

Margery Fisher

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Who calls from afar? is built round a sturdy statement that we are all responsible for the future; is man capable of keeping the resolution recorded on the moon that he 'comes in peace'? The moral is well integrated in the story of a girl in her middle 'teens who leaves the urban rat race for back-of-beyond New South Wales and takes a job as secretary at an earth-station relaying messages via satellite to the United States. The flight of Apollo 11 provides the centrepiece for a story involving, as all H. F. Brinsmead's books do, a host of major and minor characters with their attendant prejudices and preoccupations. This could have been a first rate story but for two things—its excessive length and (both reason and result of this) its lack of consistency. In one sense this is a story with a message; from this point of view, the over-long preamble about Lyn Honeyfield and her new friend physicist Henry is in theory justified. In another sense it is the story of a journey—a hilarious, super-paced, brilliantly told saga…. Cut by a third, tightened up, this could have made a comic picaresque of a kind only too rare these days; as it is, it is a bit of a white elephant. (p. 1823)

Margery Fisher, "Travellers," in her Growing Point, Vol. 10, No. 5, November, 1971, pp. 1821-24.∗