Horizontal Connections 17.03.11
Posted by Jonathan McCalmont
17 March 2011
Last time, I asked those of you with blogs and reviews to contact me in order to let me know that you were out there and you did. Sadly, I can't provide a link to every review, interview or essay published online as that would quickly make these links round-ups impractical, but here is a selection of the pieces that have caught my attention in the last couple of weeks. As ever, if you feel that I have missed something then please drop me a line via my website and if you think that I'm skewing too far in favour of one type of writing over another then please leave a comment letting me know.
And now, onto the links...
Geoff Manaugh interviews China Mieville at some length about The City and The City (2009) and his work in general:
There can be perfectly legitimate political readings and perfectly legitimate metaphoric resonances, but that doesn’t end the thing. That doesn’t foreclose it. The text is not in control. Certainly the writer is not in control of what the text can do—but neither, really, is the text itself.
Tom at Out there Books has an early review of China Mieville's Embassytown (2011):
This is a novel about the difficulty of communicating with, and understanding the workings of, alien minds. I realised about half way into the book that it reminded me a bit (not a lot) of Orson Scott Card’s Speaker For The Dead.
Science fiction, Roberts is saying in these works, is conservative, is lacking in true daring in its imagination. Hardly an original perception, but it is at least consistent.
Terry Weyna looks at Robert Jackson Bennett's Stoker award-nominated Mr. Shivers (2010):
The book is permeated with brown – the brown of dust in the air, the brown of the naked earth of the Hoovervilles, the brown of clothing worn too long and too hard. It is brown, not black, that is the color of death in this book, the brown of an earth that refuses to let anything grow any longer, the brown of a world with no rain.
Maureen Kincaid Speller blogs Tricia Sullivan's BSFA and Clarke award-nominated Lightborn (2010):
A homage to Gibson, perhaps, yet cyberspace has been almost parodically domesticated. Or is this the real downside of Gibson’s shiny hi-tech world? Or, is it simply that sf has become so bereft of ideas we need to go back and mine one of those great seminal moments in sf literature.
Martin Lewis reviews The Heroes (2011) by Joe Abercrombie :
Self-awareness is perhaps the defining quality of an Abercrombie character but at the same time they never have quite enough.
Karen Burnham hosts a roundtable discussion of the works of Ian McDonald featuring Paul Graham Raven, Fabio Fernandes, Cat Rambo, Lou Anders and Rachel Swirsky:
Several folks here have used the ‘cyberpunk’ label when discussing McDonald. I’ve always found that surprising–the comparison never struck me when I was reading his stories. I think for me the disconnect is one of tone: while I can see that some of the subject matter is the same, I always read cyberpunk as being dark, gritty and depressing (rainy industrial wastelands, etc.) whereas I always find McDonald’s books to be almost exuberant and certainly more colorful.
Richard Palmer is amused and horrified by Algis Budrys' Rogue Moon (1960):
Before reading this, I had been reading Melville’s classic novel, Moby Dick. Before starting this novel, it was also noted that in some senses the attempts that they were making to defeat an implacable, soulless foe ultimately leading to self destruction are not that far removed from Ahab’s futile quest.
S.J. Chambers looks at Jeff VanderMeer's non-fiction collection Monstrous Creatures (2011):
What VanderMeer playfully points out is no matter how you label something—to make it fit in or go against other work and writers— it’s all part of a monstrous collective.
Matt Denault investigates the 36th Annual Boston SciFi Film Festival and returns with a piece on genre short film-making:
So, science fiction as a genre for backward-looking mama’s boys, then? As a fan of SF I know this isn’t always the case, but I did have an uncomfortable sense of it, watching these films in succession.
Niall Alexander gives us his impressions of Simon Morden's Equations of Life (2011):
Perhaps Simon Morden's first Metrozone novel is a little light in the early going, but when things get real, Equations of Life is truly exhilarating stuff.
Daniel Green opines on Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story (2010) by comparing it with Rick Moody's The Four Fingers of Death(2010):
Although certainly the best satire is also the most artful, I would still maintain that satire aspires to be primarily a mode of moral or political discourse, or of cultural criticism, and not an object of aesthetic contemplation.
Mark A. Rayner attempts to find the artistic and creative value in what he calls the 'Mash-up Mentality':
Real originality evokes many emotions when it’s first encountered, and love is rarely one of them. Usually, it’s outrage and anger. New things scare us – the Thag part of us, which likes the predictable and reassuring. How else can you explain the proliferation of CSI spinoffs on television? A mash-up culture is the perfect combination of those things – something that has the frisson of newness, but is, at its heart, familiar.
Jonathan McCalmont looks at Gary K. Wolfe's latest collection of essays Evaporating Genres (2011):
a quietly revolutionary piece of methodological advocacy that urges its readers to open their minds and their hearts to the chaos at the heart of genre. Let the dead bury their dead.
Peter Bogdanovich gives us his impressions of Jean-Luc Godard's Alphaville (1965):
In the city of Alphaville, love is not only forbidden, it is forgotten. Emotions of any kind are outlawed because only logical thinking is allowed. People are viciously executed for crying when a loved one dies.
This is not a book I want to read. If this is a seduction aimed exclusively at men, I wonder what type of men they are.
Adam Roberts analyses Paul McAuley's Fairyland (1985):
The book explores the way this romantic image gets reconfigured under what, for want of a better phrase, we had better call the logic of postmodernity.
Ethan Gilsdorf writes about Mat Johnson's Pym (2011), one of a rich tradition of novels to propose sequels to Edgar Allan Poe's only complete novel The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket (1838):
Pym is part throwback to the yarns of Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs, part exegesis of racial politics, part A.S. Byatt-style literary treasure hunt.
Cheryl Morgan brings us the seventh issue of Salon Futura. This issue contains a number of interesting pieces including a focus on SF and International Relations by Ken Macleod, an investigation of the work of the revered mangaka Shotaro Ishinomori by Jonathan Clemens and an array of interviews, reviews, columns, discussions and essays by Sam Jordison, David Barnett, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro and Morgan herself:
But what does it say about the world when one of our finest exponents of the art of the graphic novel has written two books, both of which feature the exposure of corrupt political leaders? Someone is very angry here, and he is not alone.
Last but not least, Ian Sales reacts to the infamous lack of female authors in the Gollancz SF Masterworks series by proposing his own SF Mistressworks list. Can you think of any he might have missed out?