Avram Davidson’s “The House the Blakeneys Built”

The first story that I’ve read by Avram Davidson is “The House the Blakeneys Built.” Originally published in 1965, it’s about a family that finds them flung into an unknown part of the universe after their “boat” ran into something on the way to “the Moons of Lor.” The normal human visitors encounter a group of inbred people living in a castle on the nearest planet. After living with these descendants of two polygamist families for a while, they attempt to live on their own outside the confines of the “castle.” Living apart and breaking with the inbreds’ “law,” results in a confrontation leaving the two “alien” men dead and the women and new born child are taken back to the castle in order to, “Teach them better” (124). Davidson creates an interesting inversion of normality and alienness. The normal shipwrecked visitors are strangers and therefore alien to the inbred and decidedly alien looking natives. This story can be found in The Norton Book of Science Fiction.

Out of curiosity, I looked up Avram Davidson in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, edited by John Clute and Peter Nicholls. Clute reports that he’s an orthodox Jew and he served both in the US Navy (1941-1945) and alongside the Israelis in the 1948-1949 Arab-Israeli War (302). I suppose I was curious about his name, because the only other encounter I’ve had with an “Avram” was in Marge Piercy’s He, She and It.

Published by

Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.