The Catch Trap

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Title: The Catch Trap
Creator: Marion Zimmer Bradley
Date(s): 1979
Medium: print
Language: English, other translations
External Links:
a cover of "The Catch Trap"

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The Catch Trap is a book by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

It is supposedly one of the inspirations behind The Professionals AU Harlequin Airs.

The title of the book was utilized by Marion Zimmer Bradley long before this book's publication as part of her contribution to Day*Star in the mid-1960s. See Catch Trap.

Due to draconian views held by Marion Zimmer Bradley Literary Works Trust, many fans are reluctant to create fanworks based on "The Catch Trap." See Indistinct Knowledge and the comment section for one such example in 2012.

The Same-Sex Element

Many fans remember this book as one of their introductions to same sex fiction.

In 1980, this book was sold to Darkover fans via an ad in Darkover Newsletter #22:

[The Catch Trap is] the mainstream novel by MZB about three generations of am Italian,circus family, has been reissued in paperback with a new cover and a blurb) especially aimed at the "gay" market but despite the very strong "gay" emphasis, it is not a'"gay novel" per se, but a long and complex novel of many family relationships. It would be equally easy to call it a feminist novel because of the way in which it highlights the disastrous results to women of the 1940s caused by the attitudes of men in such families.

In 1982, the book was sold to fans via Friends of Darkover in an ad that did not mention specific sexual content:

WE HAVE HAD a lot of inquiries about Marion Zimmer Bradley's book THE CATCH TRAP, a mainstream, non-s-f novel about a three-generation family of circus people, acrobats of the flying trapeze. For those people who would have liked to buy the book, but understandably didn't want to pay $10.95 for a copy, we have bought up a large quantity of these books at a discount and are offering them for sale for $5 a copy, sent postage paid --- Book Rate, jiffy bag mailer. Autographed if desired, no charge. Add $1.50 extra for First Class mailing, or insurance. [1]

In 1986, Bradley described it as:

my overtly gay novel. [2]

Some 1994 Comments by Bradley

Another idea [of mine] has a long and complex history. Once, when we were living in Texas, I took my young son David, then nine or ten, to a little truck- and trailer-circus in Texas. While there, I talked to one of the trapeze flyers, whom I discovered I had actually known in childhood and met at my grandmother's. I followed him around through a couple of shows, reawakening the memory of actually having seen the great flyer Antionette Concello, in childhood, and having seen what must have been one of the last performances of the even greater Alfredo Codona.

After the show moved on, left alone in Texas, I started doing desultory research for a circus novel, saw the Burt Lancaster film Trapeze, and one called The Flying Fontaines, and hunted down and read the book on which the Lancaster film was supposedly based -- like butter to a butterfly -- namely, not much. I figured I could write a better novel of the circus, and started one. I originally thought of it as a kid's book; the first chapter of the novel but after I'd finished it, or thought I had, the two main characters continued to obsess me and it finally became a monster novel about a thousand pages long which I showed to Scott Meredith. He said, truthfully, that unless I wanted to do a massive rewrite there was no market for it, except in the quasi-pornographic gay novels of the day, so I put it in my bottom drawer and it's just dumb luck that it didn t get thrown out in one of our moves. We had so much junk! I give Walter the credit - once I actually threw it; into the fireplace and he physically dragged it out. Maybe he had a psychic flash. I didn't, but I I kept it hanging around until just by accident Judy-Lynn Del Ray read it and published it, in the changed climate of the late seventies. Twenty years after I wrote it. [3]



Fan Comments Regarding the Book in Fandom

At first glance RI infuriated me as a rip-off of NTM, by the way (I still think the conjunction of the twin moons a bit much, and wonder if she consulted you about the use of same). But her complete cultural background was what I always have hoped for with NTM, and what you could give us. As a matter of fact, your rationale about female dominance makes much more sociologically valid sense than hers, since her aggressive intelligent men just would not have waited anything like 70 years to revolt, no matter their spiritual respect for the sex who could hear the gods speak. [Also], if any of the K/S persuasion out there have not discovered MZB's newest The Catch Trap (non-sf, about a circus family) you are missing a real treat. The entire book deals extensively, realistically and beautifully with a subject she only touches on glancingly in the Darkovers. [4]

The last song on the tape is Orinoco Flow, by our own Gayle. I loved the vid (a beautiful song set with all of the images of why we love video science fiction, (in fact, it reminded me of a discussion in the Catch Trap (by Marion Zimmer Bradley, a must read for a slash fan about why people love trapeze acts, that it is all about our desire to fly.) Beautiful vid. [5]

After the decidedly disappointing mindless and bloody THE SURVIVORS, it was strictly an act of loving support for a Darkover fan to buy MZB's new non-sf $10.95 book THE CATCH TRAP while knowing nothing about it. Seldom have I been so enthralled and pleased by a book—let me highly recommend it not only to Darkover fen but to the K*S contingent of Star Trek, This is a beautifully told story of two young men who work as circus flyers ("We move as if we had only one heartbeat") as they perform intricate split-second maneuvers in tandem. And who form a partnership not only of their careers, but of their very souls and bodies. Also recently discovered and enjoyed Marlon's feminist RUINS OF ISIS—what else has this wonderful writer got in her trunk? [6]

Another really old one, probably long out of print but worth grabbing if you ever see it second-hand. Vaguely contemporary-historical rather than her usual fantasy, with a quiet warmth and the bittersweetness of reality. It's the kind of story where a few short, sweet moments amidst the characters' struggles to just stay on their feet in life are more wonderful than anything else you could hope for. The quality of the writing and editing isn't as good as her usual, but I loved it just the same. [7]


  1. ^ blurb in Starstone #5
  2. ^ Some Comments (on lesbianism) by Marion Zimmer Bradley (1986)
  3. ^ from Darkover Newsletter #64 (March 1994)
  4. ^ Dixie G. O addressed Jean Lorrah regarding a Marion Zimmer Bradley book, "Ruins of Isis," and fandom at large about "The Catch Trap" (1979)
  5. ^ In 1994, Sandy Herrold posted this comment following review of the Revelcon songtape to the Virgule-L mailing list. Se had submitted several vids as part of the Media Cannibals vidding collective and their vids had won several awards. It is reposted here with permission. (1994)
  6. ^ from Dixie Owen in Darkover Newsletter #19/20, 1979
  7. ^ yearningvoid (2000)