All the Dogs of Europe
by Barbara Paul
  

Review by
Robert Wilfred Franson
Fantasy & Science Fiction, September 1983 April 2006

  
In the nightmare of the dark, 1939

To start with, this is not a dog story; it's a dream story. "All the Dogs of Europe" is a rare science-fiction novelet by Barbara Paul, who usually writes mystery novels. I can't say a lot here about the premise because there's a lot of mystery in this story as well, as to how dreams function and why.

Andrea Caldwell, a cellist with a New York City orchestra, surprisingly finds herself in a small village square in Austria. Her discovery process — quite a good struggle, really — is the story. It's suspenseful, with a number of unpredictable turns even as we increasingly figure out what is going on.

While "All the Dogs of Europe" runs in its own personal dream-time and is not historical, our paying attention to the source of the title and its era gives a glimpse into greater depths than we usually dream about, or wish to think about.

In the nightmare of the dark
All the dogs of Europe bark,
And the dying nations wait,
Each sequestered in its hate; ...

W. H. Auden
"In Memory of W. B. Yeats"  (February 1939)
Collected Poems
  

Clear dreaming

Dream stories by their nature are liable to inherent problems and risks. Too often such stories are overly protean or blurred, deliberately tangled and confusing to the reader where they should be straightforward. "All the Dogs of Europe" does not suffer from these problems; it is admirably clear, with crisp characterization and sense of place. The dreaming is well handled, with just the right degree of mysteriousness for each phase of the story.

"All the Dogs of Europe" is an excellent story, and deserves a place in some future collection of Barbara Paul's science fiction and fantasy.

There's another line in Auden's poem which seems to me apropos to "All the Dogs of Europe", where Auden says of Yeats:

The current of his feeling failed;
    he became his admirers.

Dreaming is a dynamic process. We should be careful whom we dream of, and to, and for.

  

  
© 2006 Robert Wilfred Franson


  
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