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Posts Tagged ‘toby litt

Lost In Space

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My review of Lost In Space by Toby Litt is up now at Strange Horizons.

I mentioned Ursula K LeGuin’s review of it earlier and, as usual, I disagree with her but it does make interesting reading and I will be looking forward to other reviews of the novel.

ETA: Litt in Prospect on his love of science fiction:

Young-Toby is more into television than books, and more into films than television, but the books he does buy tend to come out of cardboard boxes on trellis tables at fêtes, harvest festivals and bring and buy sales. He judges books entirely by their covers and, if he’d seen a book like Journey into Space in 1979, he would have bought it—despite the fact that it doesn’t bear those ultra-desirable words: “Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards,” sci-fi’s two most august prizes. Although he hasn’t yet realised it, young-Toby is a big fan of Chris Foss—the leading sci-fi artist. Whenever he sees one of his battered, heroic spacecraft on a novel by EE “Doc” Smith, Isaac Asimov or Arthur C Clarke, young-Toby knows that it’s the right kind of thing… Since the age of 11, I’ve constantly moved away from and then back towards science fiction. William Gibson (Count Zero) brought me back, as did Iain M Banks (Use of Weapons) and Neal Stephenson (Snow Crash, The Diamond Age).

Tantalisingly he concludes: “I want to write more science fiction. This wasn’t a one-time visit.”

Written by Martin

6 March 2009 at 11:09

Posted in books, sf

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Saturday Morning Links (A Day Late)

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When Strange Horizons want someone to review a mainstream SF novel they call on me (or Dan). The Guardian have more money and cachet so when they want someone they call on Ursula K LeGuin. She reviewed Journey Into Space by Toby Litt yesterday:

The theme of the ship of fools is old and tried, and has provided matter for many a good story; but this is a ship of blockheads. Perhaps it’s a good thing to remind us of the dangerous stupidity of our species, but if there’s no end and no contrast to the stupidity, the story itself sinks into the inane.

My own review will be appearing in Strange Horizons some time in the near future and Joanna Briscoe reviews They Is Us by Tama Janowitz, another example of mainstream SF, just over the page:

The profundity and subtlety of recent futuristic dystopian literature creates a standard that is hard to match. After Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, any prophetic vision runs the risk of appearing derivative. Tama Janowitz rises to the challenge by injecting her bleak portrait of a future America with flippant humour, her message elevated by absurdity as she wilfully veers into the parodic. The result is funny but flimsy.

Continuing with reviews, Partick Ness on Gullstruck Island which sounds interesting. However, I was more interested in Ness’s lead paragraph:

It’s JK Rowling’s fault. After the mammoth Order of the Phoenix, so primed were readers for a concluding epic that The Deathly Hallows’s 607 pages seemed, incredibly, a bit mean. Have you noticed, though, that it’s only middle-aged reviewers who complain about the length of children’s books, not the children themselves? Frances Hardinge’s delightfully inventive Gullstruck Island cooks along for 504 ripe, rollicking and endlessly creative pages. If that sounds exhausting to you, maybe that’s the point. Maybe that’s why it’s a kids’ book.

I am some way off being middle-aged but I am a reviewer and I am given to moaning about the length of books. It is also a complaint Adam Roberts (who must be getting on towards middle age) recently made of Ness’s own kids’ book.

Elsewhere in the paper, Salman Rushie asks is there such a thing as a good adaptation? To which the only answer can be: yes, of course, there is, Jesus Christ, what is the point of paying subeditors if this is the best they can come up with? Glossing over the unfairly short shrift Rushdie gives both The Sword In The Stone and Spider I will instead highlight this portion of the article:

British reality programmes are adapted to suit American audiences as well; Pop Idol becomes American Idol when it crosses the Atlantic, Strictly Come Dancing becomes Dancing With the Stars – a programme which, it may interest you to know, invited me to appear on it last season, an invitation I declined.

This idea entranced me long enough for me to burn my breakfast.

Written by Martin

1 March 2009 at 10:51