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Dave Truesdale
Posted on Wednesday, March 07, 2007 - 02:29 pm:   

I have a comparison to make. David D. Levine's short story in the April, 2007 F&SF is written in 5 short sections, chronologically reversed (from V-I). In the 5th segment (I) it reads almost exactly like a story of Frank M. Robinson's from 51 years ago.

Robinson wrote the short story "Dream Street" for the March, 1955 issue of _Imaginative Stories_. In it, Michael Donohue is a young boy living in a Home for Boys in Chicago. Intelligent and tired of his life, he runs away to the Roswell Rocket Port in New Mexico. He dreams of going to the stars, and will do anything to get a job on one of the rockets plying the solar system. He is aware of the dangers but is willing to take the risk. His problem is that the Home's headmaster, Mr. Gilman, is used to his boys running off from time to time, and knows the odds are that young Michael is not the first to seek the stars by taking off for the excitement and adventure of Roswell.

In the pertinent section of "Titanium Mike," the runaway child is now a 15 year-old girl. From the story: "--how she'd run away from home at fifteen, made her way to Florida, worked her way up from a waitress to a welder, and now, when she was just about to launch on her first orbital gig, her family had finally tracked her down. 'They'll be here tomorrow morning to drag me back to that same safe suburban deep-freeze I escaped from two years ago.' "

Robinson's young boy (Michael) escapes from a home to Roswell, NM, to discover the stars. He starts out working in the shipyards, then gets his chance on a ship with some help from a mentor.

Levine's young girl escapes from her home to Florida to discover the stars. She starts out in the shipyards as a welder, then gets her chance on a ship with some help from a mentor (also with the name of Mike, as from the Robinson story).

The theme of both stories is the same; the dream of the adventure, of going out to the stars, of escaping the mundanity of earthly life. And of young people leaving either their broken or boring lives to seek the stars.

It used to be the story that young boys would leave home to join the adventure and excitement of the circus. Now Robinson and Levine both tell the timeless story in their own ways, but the updated story is now a search for the wonder of the stars rather than that of the circus.

Since the grand theme of both stories is the same, and with the final segment of the Levine resembling so closely that of the Robinson story, I wonder if he was in some way offering a tip of the hat--a brief homage--to Robinson's "Dream Street."

Anyone else read "Dream Street" and notice the resemblance? It can be found in THE BEST SCIENCE FICTION STORIES AND NOVELS, 1956, ed. T.E. Dikty.

Best,
Dave
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 03:10 pm:   

Dave---

I haven't communicated with David Levine about the possible homage, but Frqnk says he's going to reread "Dream Street" thanks to your post about it here.
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Dave Truesdale
Posted on Saturday, March 10, 2007 - 06:50 pm:   

Cool. :-)

While the points of comparison aren't 100% one to one (and no one would expect them to be), whether intentional or not there are enough points in remarkable commonality for there to be a striking resemblance between "Dream Street" and the last little section of David's story. Both do share, however, the overall theme of the excitement and adventure of going to the stars.

Am anxious to see if the resemblance was intentional or not. You know how these things go sometimes.

Cheers,
Dave
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Dave Truesdale
Posted on Monday, March 12, 2007 - 06:41 am:   

I took the liberty of emailing David Levine about the story in question. With his permission to post his answer here, I do so:

From David D. Levine--

"To the best of my recollection I haven't read the story in question. Certainly "Titanium Mike" owes a great debt to the space-based SF of the 50s and 60s (as does a lot of my stuff), but in this particular case there's no conscious connection.

On the other hand, the first scene in the story is a deliberate echo of a scene in Heinlein's "The Rolling Stones" (I think it was) in which grandmother Hazel and the baby of the family are lost in the asteroid belt. But that's the only one I consciously modeled on anything specific."

So the uncanny resemblance noted between the final section in "Titanium Mike" and "Dream Street" is a coincidence, though present nevertheless. I can only imagine that perhaps Robinson and Levine would say that great minds think alike, yes? :-)

Cheers,
Dave

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