The Friendship Light


  • First publication
    • The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, 40th Anniversary issue, October 1989
  • Wolfe collection(s)

Wolfe's comments from the Introduction to Innocents Aboard

"'The Friendship Light' is one of those stories the author likes better than anyone else. Like 'The Friendship Light,' 'Slow Children at Play' was based in part on an actual light – a mysterious light in this case – which I saw once and have never seen again. It's also based on a traffic sign about a half a block north of this house."


An outside light attracts strange winged beings that aid a man in taking revenge.


Ty wanted revenge on his brother-in-law, Jack, for having Ty's sister Tessie committed, but it seems Jack was justified in doing this. Tessie seems to have killed her own child (age three or so).

Ty reads one of Tessie's books, A Rebours, a decadent French novel without a plot by Joris-Karl Huysmans. This novel was supposedly the inspiration for a fictional novel read by Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, which inspired him to a life of immoral decadence. Huysmans himself eventually converted to Catholicism.

These winged beings seem similar to the Lovecraftian flying creatures in An Evil Guest.

Tessie is short for Teresa, and knowing Wolfe's use of saint names suggests Saint Teresa of Ávila, who had an ecstatic vision of a winged cherub who pierced her heart with a spear. The winged creatures in this story may be a demonic inversion.

Ty may be short for Tyrone, or, more interestingly, Typhon.

  • Sources of quotes
  • Meanings of names
  • References to other works
  • Theories about what happens under the surface, what the narrator isn't telling us, who the narrator is and when and why s/he is telling the story, what the whole thing "means," etc.
    If there are multiple or competing theories, each one should be given a name with a three-bang (!!!) header; if the page begins to get out-of-hand from the size of these, as could happen in a few cases, they should be shuffled off to their own page(s).
  • Etc.

Unresolved Questions

  • Why did the creatures respond to the friendship light? How did Ty know any such thing would happen?
  • One possibility is that Tessie was a witch, and that the death of her child was actually a sacrifice to summon the demonic creatures.
  • Was it A or was it B, or was it X or Z?
  • Was it he or was it she, or was it you or me?
  • Who dunnit?
  • Did the Star Child really start WWIII at the end of 2001?

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