Thoughts on the first episode of Heroes S3

I’m interested again, but only to the extent of wanting to find out where all the balls they just threw up in the air will land, and unfortunately, I suspect I can guess. Heroes arcs are almost always structured around an effort to prevent a story from happening, which (1) is almost always less interesting than the prospect of the story happening, (2) encourages the more solipsistic and rebarbative habits of any long-running TV series, and (3) usually leaves you running in place. Especially when your enabling device is time travel, and several of your characters have a healing factor.

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Maps and Legends

Maps and Legends coverMy review of Michael Chabon’s non-fiction collection Maps and Legends is up at Fruitless Recursion:

The title of Michael Chabon’s first collection of non-fiction is taken from one of the shortest pieces in the book, a brief essay about growing up in the planned community of Columbia, Maryland in the late sixties and early seventies. There is a literal map described, a partial streetmap that Chabon acquired from the city Exhibit Center, and was fascinated by, for its relation to an incomplete reality. Many of the street names alluded to the work of American writers and poets, but to Chabon they were most notable for referring to places that hadn’t been built yet. “They were like magic spells,” he writes, “each one calibrated to call into being one particular stretch of blacktop, sidewalk, and lawn, and no other” (31). Chabon then describes growing up, and feeling disillusioned about some of the lessons he had taken from life in Columbia, such as the extent to which America is racially integrated. Still and all, he says, he remembers the Exhibit Centre map with fondness, “however provisional” it and Columbia proved to be, and he attributes this fondness in part to the way the map steered him into the literary world. I’m not sure the word “legend” appears anywhere in the essay other than the title, but in that context it seems clear to me that it refers both to the literary legends — the stories — implicit in the map, and the legend of his own youth that Chabon is creating, not least because Maps and Legends, as a book, is divided between those two subjects.

Also in this issue: Paul Kincaid on Mike Ashley’s Gateways to Forever, Alvaro Zinos-Amaro on Gabriel McKee’s The Gospel According to Science Fiction, and Jonathan McCalmont on Studies in Modern Horror, edited by NGChristakos.


Spirit 5 coverThis is worth breaking out into a separate post:

I mentioned in the links roundup that Gwyneth Jones has put the full text of her Arthur C Clarke Award-winning novel Bold as Love online; this came to me via Futurismic, since the feed of Gwyneth’s blog seems not to be playing nicely with Bloglines at the moment.

Anyway, after scanning the other recent posts, I discovered that Gwyneth has also put up a pdf ARC of her new novel, Spirit: or the Princess of Bois Dormant, which is not due to be published until the very end of December. Enjoy. (And don’t forget the related stories. Oh, and on a different note, see this response to the recent-ish discussion of Gwyneth’s Guardian top 10 sf novels by women.)

The Quiet Links

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In a week where one blog I read regularly shut up shop (for now? he said, impishly) and another expressed general boredom with the blogosphere, and given that I haven’t been posting much for the last few weeks, I figure it probably wouldn’t hurt to say: I aten’t dead, or bored, I’m just busy.

August was a sufficiently busy month that I managed to read a grand total of three books, and though I’ve done a bit better this month, that’s mostly because I’ve been the sort of busy that allows me to factor in reading time (i.e. train journeys). Between Vector (the next issue of which should be going to the printers in a week or two, which means hitting doormats in about a month) and SH reviews (which I’ve now been running for just over three years — where does the time go?) I’ve not had much time for writing of my own, although I do have a review of Anathem coming up at IROSF, and a review of Michael Chabon’s Maps and Legends in the next issue of Fruitless Recursion. I’m also behind on email, so please bear with me if you’re waiting for a response on something. I’ve not even had much time for TV — I haven’t seen Heroes yet, and though I’ve fallen in love with The Middleman I’ve only watched half a dozen episodes.

However, it looks like — famous last words — things might be quietening down a bit, and I’ve got a bunch of stuff in the pipeline for here. I’ve been running a discussion about Flood, which is just waiting for final contributions, and hope to get discussions about Karen Joy Fowler’s Wit’s End and Anathem done soonish. I’m working on a series of posts about Sword & Sorcery/Heroic Fantasy, inspired by the lovely reissues of some of the Gollancz Fantasy Masterworks earlier this year. So far I’ve got draft posts about The Broken Sword, Elric, Joanna Russ’s The Adventures of Alyx, and The Steel Remains, all of which need polishing, and some of which need me to do a bit more background reading. I’m also debating adding Lankhmar to the series, although that would delay posting it even longer. (I was originally planning to get them up at the end of August.) I also have a post about Gwyneth Jones’ late-eighties novel Kairos drafted, and posts about Benjamin Rosenbaum’s collection The Ant King and Other Stories and Ian R MacLeod’s new novel Song of Time gestating; the latter may end up combined with thoughts on the book I’m reading now, Paul McAuley’s The Quiet War, given that both have made me think about strategies for describing future history. Or, it may not. Other stuff I want to get to soon or soon-ish: the rest of the October/November F&SF; Blonde Roots by Bernadine Evaristo; and the recent Chris Beckett special issue of Interzone.

Of course, the thing that’s got lost in all this is the Baroque Cycle Reading Group. I have to admit, I don’t know when I’m going to get round to The Confusion; I was sufficiently unenthused by Quicksilver that it’s a matter of making time for it. Liz had nobly volunteered to write the post about it, but I gather she’s had computer woes and probably lost the draft she’d been working on. But if there’s still an appetite for discussion (it had seemed to be dropping off quite dramatically with each installment), I’ll bump it back up the reading stack. Thoughts?

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London Meeting: Farah Mendlesohn

The guest at tonight’s BSFA London Meeting is Farah Mendlesohn, author of Rhetorics of Fantasy, co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Science Fiction, and much else. She’ll be interviewed by Tony Keen.

As usual, the venue is the upstairs room of The Antelope, 22 Eaton Terrace, London, SW1W 8EZ. The closest tube station is Sloane Square, and a map is here.

The meeting is free (although there will be a raffle), and open to any and all. The interview will start at 7pm, although there’ll be people in the bar from 6 onwards.

Candidate of Dune

The problem was not Obama; the problem was that at the instant when Hillary Clinton at last conceded, the nature of the campaign changed. It was, I considered (perhaps under the influence of the kind smile and exhortatory squeeze on the arm bestowed on me by Jimmy Carter, president of my darkest adolescence, as he passed me in the doorway of a LoDo Mexican restaurant), like the change that might occur between the first and second volumes of some spectacular science fiction fantasy epic. At the end of the first volume, after bitter struggle, Obama had claimed the presumptive nomination. We Fremen had done the impossible, against Sardaukar and imperial shock troops alike. We had brought water to Arrakis. Now the gathered tribes of the Democratic Party—hacks, Teamsters, hat ladies, New Mexicans, residents of those states most nearly resembling Canada, Jews of South Florida, dreadlocks, crewcuts, elderlies and goths, a cowboy or two, sons and daughters of interned Japanese-Americans—had assembled on the plains of Denver to attempt to vanquish old Saruman McCain.

Michael Chabon, of course.