Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science-Fiction by Jetse de Vries (ed.)
Solaris Books, April 2010; 416pp; £7.99 RRP – ISBN13: 978-1906735661
I’ve been talking about Jetse de Vries’ Shine project for a long time now, for a number of reasons: not only is Jetse a good friend and former colleague, but I’m a sucker for manifestos and movements that attempt to turn against the grain within their chosen field. I supported the call for optimistic science fiction for the same reason I supported the Mundane SF movement, in other words, and in the same manner – not in hope of seeing one hegemony replace another, but in hope of seeing the landscape change a little.
Only time will tell whether Shine will cause more than a momentary blip on the stylistic timeline of science fiction, of course. But a number of the stories contained within it seem to prove Jetse’s thesis, namely that you don’t have to write a dystopian or post-apocalyptic future to create an engaging science fiction story. Continue reading BOOK REVIEW: Shine: An Anthology of Optimistic Science Fiction by Jetse de Vries (ed.)
Booklife by Jeff VanderMeer
Tachyon Publications, November 2009; 330pp; US$14.95 RRP – ISBN13: 9781892391902
There are dozens – possibly even hundreds – of books out there that purport to tell you how to be a writer. Continue reading BOOK REVIEW: Booklife, by Jeff VanderMeer
Michael Basnett, Sparklers (ILT Books, 2003)
[pp.757. $24.95. ISBN: 723483445127]
Readers may remember Canadian writer Basnett from his Substars trilogy (Density, the second volume of which, was nominated for the De Granville Prize). Sparklers is a fat stand-alone volume in the same mode, which is to say it is a fast-paced galactic space opera with an ingenious central premise and occasional moments of poetry. Basnett is quickly becoming a writer worth noticing. Continue reading Book review: Michael Basnett – Sparklers
Kramer Wand, me:topia (Indicia, 2009)
[pp.197. $20.00. ISBN: 723485522826]
“Great title”, said a friend when I emailed him to say I’d received this book to review; “what’s it about? No, don’t tell me, let me guess—”
I bet this book is arguing that the problem with utopia has been too large a concern with the other feller, too much ‘you’ and not enough ‘me’. I’d wager it’s written by an ex-hippy, somebody now wearing a silk suit and driving an open-top BMW, who’s come to see that self-love is the road to a harmonious society. I’ll go so far as to imagine a sentence from this book: ‘how can we love others if we don’t first love ourselves, and love must be the basis of any utopia. Am I right?
I mention this because, like my friend, I assumed from the title that this book would be a 21st-century revisioning of hippy idealism through the ‘ethical selfishness’ of the late twentieth-century: but, like my friend, I could not have been more wrong. Continue reading Book review: Kramer Wand – me:topia
Thomas Hodgkin, Denis Bayle: a Life (Badger Books 2009)
[pp.321. £20.00. ISBN: 724381129524]
This is a novel with an interesting conceit, written by a newcomer to SF (although according to Hodgkin’s own author bio, he has published a number of mainstream novels). The book takes the form of a biography, complete with preface, scholarly apparatus, timeline and everything else. The subject of the story is a fictional Science Fiction author, the Denis Bayle of the title, but the point of the book is less to tell a life story (Hodgkin doesn’t give Bayle that interesting a life).
Continue reading Book review: Thomas Hodgkin – Denis Bayle: a Life