Friday, October 24, 2008

A Few Links, Talking about Books

Inspired by Niall Harrison's discussion of Gwyneth Jones's Kairos a couple of weeks back, Ian Sales has written about Gwyneth's 1986 novel Escape Plans, a novel I've always felt has received very little attention-- though my perception of that may be due to the lack of a US edition of the novel. Sales' writes:

...a story which is not all together easy to parse in the first place. The setting, the use of an acronymic language, the mentions of the myriad systems, the deliberate confusion between the systems' real and virtual locations, and the metaphors used by the Earth's populace in explanation of this... all serve to richen and partly obscure the story. Happily, the prose is so well written, it pulls you along with the plot.

This description confirms my memory of the reading experience. And if I correctly recall, there were many little things in the novel that absolutely tickled me. So many delicious ironies (for 1986 especially).

I was amused to read a response to Sales' review from someone who doesn't get "the regard in which Ms. Jones is held. I've met her and like her, but I find her fiction almost unendurable. It is, for me, not quite unreadable, but I wish it was; I waded through the Aleutian trilogy and enjoyed it as much as if it were thick sewage." After going on a bit in that vein, the commenter then declares his love for Neal Stephenson's work and provides a link to his praise of said work. Sales's reply made me chuckle: "Ah well, you see I don't get the Stephenson thing. I thought Snowcrash was mildly entertaining, Cryptonomicon twice the size it needed to be, and I gave up on the Baroque Cycle halfway through. I feel no burning desire to buy Anathem. But I will be buying GJ's new novel, Spirit when it's published in December..."

On Wednesdy I read first a notice and then a review of Nisi Shawl's Filter House. The review is Matt Cheney's, and can be found here. The notice is in the Fall issue of Ms. Magazine, which lists Filter House among its dozen "Great Reads for Fall 2008." (There's no weblink yet, since the site's still showing the Summer issue.)


Cliff Burns said...

Mr. Sales is one of the smartest reviewers I've come across in the past while--his critiques are knowledgeable, concise and thoroughly entertaining. It is also refreshing to find a reviewer who is well read in other fields besides SF--it gives his comments more scope and credibility. Too many genre reviewers are insular and narrow-focused and, as a result, their perspectives suffer; Mr. Sales never, to my knowledge, falls into that trap...

Josh said...

Wow. That Matt Cheney piece Just Doesn't Get It . . . I mean, John Gardner? Chip Delany has (in conversation) declared "The Raineses" a work of genius; and I personally think "Little Horses," which Cheney singles out for praise, is the only weak piece in the book.