Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday Morning Coffee: Jacky Terrasson; Christopher Beha;"Year's Best SF 15"; "Whitechapel Gods"

[Jacky Terrasson and friends]

* Lobster at the lectern:

Christopher Beha (an editor at Harper's) in the current issue of BookForum (page 39), reviewing Gary Shteyngart's latest novel:

"...Chekhov's genius lay precisely in revealing the complex interiority that energizes the most mundane human moments. [//] Shteyngart makes a compelling case that we lose that interiority-- the very thing that gives us depth and richness-- when we abandon literary culture. It may be, as so many want to tell us, that this loss is bad for democracy. But that is almost beside the point: It is bad for our souls."

* Canary in a hammock:

David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer are up to their usual excellent curatorial standard in Year's Best SF 15 (Eos, 2010). A few favorites:

"Edison's Frankenstein" by Chris Roberson, a clever riff on yesterday's future and the perils of prediction. "But he realized now it wasn't a hope for a new world to come, but a kind of nostalgia for a future that could never be" (page 491).

"The Island" by Peter Watts (whose novel Blindsight is one of my favorites of the past few years), a compact meditation on free will and evolution. " 'You're only following orders from a bunch of other systems way more complex than you are.' You've got to hand it to them, too; dead for stellar lifetimes and those damn project admins are still pulling the strings" (page 197).

"The Fixation" by Alastair Reynolds, also focuses on free will, the what-if's of alternate realities, the perils of unintended consequences. "Ghosts are not the souls of the dead, but the souls of people written out of history when history changes" (pg. 317).

* Lobster, after burnishing his claws on the cogs of a sunken ship, is relaxing with Whitechapel Gods by S.M. Peters. Not done yet, but impressed so far with this tale. Reminds us of China Mieville's work, of Gaiman's Neverwhere and The Light Ages by Ian MacLeod.

Enjoy your Sunday.

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