Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost
I’m all for breaking down the artificial barricades that bedevil speculative fiction part of the frustration behind this post was that I didn’t think Gollancz were putting their money where their mouth was. Why did Graham Joyce have to go to Faber to publish TWOC just because it contains no fantastic elements? Why, when they are so justly proud of having M John Harrison on the books, does the extraordinary Climbers languish out of print? I doubt David Mitchell’s publishers would ever say to him, “sorry, mate, this is insufficiently mimetic, take it elsewhere”.
So I am absolutely delighted to see that Gollancz are re-issuing Climbers with a new introduction from Robert Macfarlane. Macfarlane is a nature writer, chair of the judges for this year’s Booker Prize and he selected Harrison’s Empty Space as one of his books of the year. As it happens, I’ve just been reading Macfarlane’s latest book, The Old Ways. These ways are not mores but paths: “pilgrim paths, green roads, drove roads, corpse roads, trods, leys, dykes, drongs, sarns, snickets, holloways, bostles, shutes, driftways, lichways, ridings, halterpaths, cartways, carneys, causeways, herepaths.” Like the work of Macfarlane’s late friend Roger Deakin, calling this nature writing seems too narrow; it is memoir and poetry and philosophy, a work of biogeography. Not unlike Climbers, in fact.