Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Genocides and the cheeriness of scifi


Happy New Year ...

I've started in apocalyptic mode. Novels can seem tame and bloated. What about a brisk one, aliens farming the earth, the last remaining humans delving down through the root system of plants that have displaced all other life forms? It's Thomas M. Disch's The Genocides. At 3am I was awake and realizing this was not the time to grade papers fairly, so read through to Genocides' end. Grand stuff.

Disch is a fine guide to the world of scifi - especially in his The Dreams our Stuff is made of. This is fine writing.

The Guardian has a blog up just now considering the non-role take my scifi in the critical realm. It considers Alfred Bester's THE DEMOLISHED MAN, a superb novel, and one of my best-ever audio reads. I grew up on a diet of John Wyndham, and like it when my writing shoots off in scifi directions ... sadly too scifi for the mainstream and not genre enough for scifi editors as it happens, who each recommend me to the other in a dispiriting cycle. The scifi sections of bookstores often leave me cold ... but the secondhand stores scifi sections nearly always deliver a gem, often classic work from the fifties. New work does seem bloated by comparison, meeting the commercial need for 80,000+ words.

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