Audacity: in search of adventures

A tale from way back when, which replays itself every Saturday: the dog’s ongoing antagonism towards huge huskies who run their sleighs in the forest.

The dog was breathtakingly audacious today, and I wasn’t there to see it.

Phil runs the dog at weekends. Saturday morning is rush hour in the woodlands which surround us. And the huskies are out to play.

They are strange beings, these beautiful dogs with so much of the wild pack about them.

Every Saturday they are ferried by van to the gateway to the forest, and harnessed up to sleighs which substitute wheels for rails.

If the huskies are great silver, pent-up warriors, then Macaulay is a shifty private, stubbing out a cigarette and scanning the horizon for any criminal opportunities before he shuffles on his way.

He does not like to walk past them.

When Phil reaches the forest path, flanked on both sides by those with lofty pedigrees, the dog hangs back and will not follow.

Because he, we and those huskies know that there is a pecking order, and that Mac is somewhere near the bottom with things that have only recently crawled up out of the sea.

And so, picture my little dog, as Phil puts him on the lead and leads him, glancing uneasily from side to side, one dishevelled paw after another, reluctant, along the parade.

Not so this morning. Because the huskies were still inside their white vans, awaiting the freedom for which their souls long, like a deer for running water.

Mac has never grasped the concept of sowing carefully, that one may reap. His idea of politics is lamentably warped.

Never mind the fact that next Saturday, the Samurais will be back, as intimidating as ever. Today, Caulay was going to make a typical terrier gesture.

So he selected the biggest, most showy sleigh. One which would need, ooooh, ten dogs to pull it.

And, as enraged eyes watched from behind glass van windows, he cocked his leg against it.

This is my territory now, he gestured, as he glanced at them over his shoulder.

Even as I tell the story, pictures of shredded dogs limbs fly terrifyingly through my mind. This was audacious, reckless daring, verging on the suicidal. Better be very, very careful next week.

Audacity, of course, is not limited to the canine race. A couple of weeks ago Phil and I stumbled upon a wonderful example of this trait : The First Men In The Moon.

The writer of the story, HG Wells, struck out audaciously into the most daring of science fiction. He chose to write, in 1901, about what might happen if someone ever invented a way to get to the moon.

He created an inventor, Dr Cavor, who allows his brilliant mind to wander untethered, almost without realising where he is treading.

He invents a substance he delightedly calls Cavorite. If you paint Cavorite on anything it renders the air directly above it weightless, the tale goes.

So of course that thing shoots upwards at breakneck speed.

And finally there is a businessman, a Mr Bedford, who has fled creditors in London and immediately, with native cunning, grasps the implication of Cavor’s invention as Cavor could never do. What plans someone daring could make for this Cavorite…

Risk is an integral part of audacity, and this short story of Wells’s has his characters risk everything to discover a brave new world.

The setting is a wonderful combination of fustian, Edwardian styling, total underestimation of what a trip to the moon would require, delight at discovery, and the realisation that in every risk lies deadly danger.

Wells was not the only one with his eyes on interplanetary travel.

One day CS Lewis and JRR Tolkein were sitting in the pub, as they did, and they were talking about the sorry state of story writing in their time.

CS Lewis had been struck by Wells’s story. There are apocryphal accounts which claim he had written to a close friend that it was the best of its kind he had seen.

Together, says CS Lewis’s biographer, AN Wilson, the two writers hatched an audacious plan. CS Lewis would write a space travel story, and JRR Tolkein would write a time-travel one.

Tolkein started and did not finish: it can be found in a collection of his writing published by his son- The Lost Road And Other Writings.

Lewis completed his, and called it Out Of The Silent Planet. It is the first book of a trilogy, and comes complete with a predatory professor who wished to colonise other worlds, and a language gap so cavernous the whole thing could only end in tears.

Audacity, for a dog, is a physical gesture to stake a claim. But for someone who writes audacity is a challenge, an adventure of the mind.

So many audacious adventures out there await, still to be written.

If we only dare.

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24 thoughts on “Audacity: in search of adventures

  1. Mac is just hoping they can go walking and running elsewhere next weekend, Please tell Phil Mac is sorry, and please can they go elsewhere. Phil can even choose where.

    I love science fiction, every story needs its background, when it was started, when it was completed, so one can compare those adventurous minds with the known reality of the day.

      1. I’m finding a lot of older science fiction free on the web (Ipad makes reading fun)

        ps – I’d love a technical explanation of backpiddle

  2. “Audacity, for a dog, is a physical gesture to stake a claim. But for someone who writes audacity is a challenge, an adventure of the mind.” I love to watch those little dogs who risk so much to tell the big guys how things stand. They dream big. We should all have such visions. And nerve.

    1. There are few better fitted for the feat, Cameron. Though in your circle you are in daring company πŸ™‚ I was taking to Andra the other day about your circle of writers being rather a cyberCamelot….

      1. I saw the comment to that effect at Andra’s. Need I remind you who led me to Andra? And Jessie? And Elizabeth? They are not *my* circle, though I hope to be worthy of inclusion.

      2. πŸ™‚ Apologies, Cameron, those greedy spamgobblers claimed this lovely comment and I am tardy answering. WriteOnEdge is a Camelot of a kind, don’t you think? That it attracts some really cool knights is to be expected…

  3. Macauley has set the stage for a showdown in the forest. Perhaps Phil should pack some Cavorite next week . . . so they can “shoot upwards at breakneck speed.” πŸ˜€

  4. I must tell you what came to my mind! I have an Master’s Degree in a university. I’m the Macaulay in a world of Ph.Ds. LOL! I am the least hierarchical person you’ll ever meet, Kate, and I don’t care about such things. I continually walk into meetings and fail to curtsy…it doesn’t occur to me that i needed to, until someone else does! Go Mac! And you gave a lot of writers a wonderful boost with this post! Debra

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