One of my favorite of GW's stories, so I'm stoked you got to it. It always made me want to think that GW had read Wallace Stevens because there are so many fun connections between the image of Stevens as an insurance executive by day and dreamer by night. And I know that in the Afterward in _Best of..._, GW says that this is his tribute to men who work drudgery jobs, but I wonder how much of it was his experience, too, as an engineer/editor.
And I promise to have questions later, but just wanted to ask if you (or anyone else) had ever read Thomas Ligotti's "My Work is Not Yet Done." It has a very similar vibe of "find the horror in the emptiness of office life." A few stories by Michael Cisco as well. In fact, maybe it's time for an anthology: "Cubicle Horror: Workplace Uncanniness in 20th century SF."
Oh, that's awesome. That must be what Wolfe is thinking about as he is working at an engineering firm and writing a story about an engineering firm.
Listened to the recap episodes today. You mentioned the "generational" initials (Emmanuel Forlesen = EF, etc.). This may be related to Wolfe's experience as an engineer. Mechanical and process documents are usually marked with a letter indicating the revision; original release is marked OR, after that first revision is Rev. A, second is Rev. B, and so on. That's the way it's been done at all three places I've worked.
I just read Forlesen for the first time, and I'm pretty sure Ligotti read it back in the 70's and based his entire idea of fiction off of it. Interesting how two technical writers are the best at writing horror.
My wife started reading "My Work is Not Yet Done." She's a book folder so I've been watching her and preparing for the worst.
Haha, that's definitely the anthology our society deserves. I hadn't heard of that Ligotti story, but look for it on Elder Sign sometime this year (if we can stomach it).
I definitely read this in terms of Wolfe's biography -- this is right around the time that he quit Proctor & Gamble and took that job at Plant Engineering and moved to Chicagoland (the best of all lands!). It's hard not to hear him agonizing about having to go to work again ... and again ... and again.
We're looking forward to questions later!