Reality’s a fantasy

Just finished Zola’s ‘L’Assomoir’ (‘The Drinking Den’), and once again been pondering the fantasy / reality gap. Zola saw himself as a Realist; closely allied with the Impressionists, he sought to create a prose equivalent to their vivid, journalistic depictions of everyday Parisian life. Zola and the Impressionists broke cultural and aesthetic taboos, and both […]

Your 20th century boy

In the context of yesterday’s comments about the self-justifying self, I’ve been thinking about Michael Moorcock’s ‘Between the Wars’ series of books (‘Byzantium Endures’, ‘The Laughter of Carthage’, ‘Jerusalem Commands’, ‘The Vengeance of Rome’), dealing with the adventures of Maxim Pyat in the 20th Century. Maxim’s a fascinating character. Both naïve adventurer and lethal manipulator, […]

Space is Deep

A.R. Yngve’s comment below set me thinking about the deepness of space, and a writer who’s dealt with its profoundly dislocating emptiness more successfully than most – A. E. Van Vogt. Van Vogt’s ‘Voyage of the Space Beagle’ (or ‘Space Bagel’, as it’s known round these parts) couldn’t really exist without that awareness. Its protagonist, […]

The Wall game

Monday again, and time to think about Alan Wall, as he has a ‘how to’ book on writing out. This is very exciting, because he’s a magnificent writer. First book of his I read was ‘China’, which was hugely enjoyable (in part because it’s very well written, in part because it’s mostly set around five […]

Lovecraft’s tentacles

In an introduction to a Lovecraft collection, China Mieville points out that H. P. Lovecraft introduced tentacles – and indeed the squamous in general – into horror fiction. That squamousness signifies a wider fascination with negotiable identities. One of the key tropes of Lovecraftian horror is that your place in the cosmos – indeed, the […]