Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Alastair Reynolds makes the big time

(sort of) 

There's a non-fannish, genre-informed rave review by Javier Martinez of his new book, "Blue Remembered Earth", on The LA Review of Books website.  An interesting political perspective, by the way.... I've never paid much attention to the politics of SF, but Martinez's analysis makes sense to me.

Reynold's frame is a society which is a technological totalitarian state -- and that's OK by Reynolds, apparently. Says Martinez:

This concept half a century ago would likely have been depicted as a sinister hive-mind, a metaphor for global communism, that our protagonist would rally against and overthrow armed only with his smarts and can-do attitude. BRE moves away from this libertarian old-guard position, upheld by such pulp-era titans as John W. Campbell, Robert A. Heinlein, and Poul Anderson - not to mention their ideological heirs, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and the stable of writers at Baen Books.
The ideological shift from individualism toward techno-collectivism is, if no less problematic, evidence of a left-leaning vision in Reynolds's work. A conventional history of the genre can trace the leftist turn in SF back several decades to at least the 1950s, with the pioneering social satire featured in Galaxy magazine. But Reynolds's lineage is more complex: he clearly owes a huge debt to those authors central to the early decades of the genre (certainly the future-history detailed in his "Inhibitor" series is a nod to Heinlein's work, if not his ideology), but he melds this traditionalism with elements culled from the writers of the1960s and '70s - such as John Brunner, Barry N. Malzberg, and Barrington J. Bayley - who turned routine space adventures into more meditative excursions. At the same time, Reynolds expresses an exuberance that aligns him with the outer-space quasi-mysticism of Arthur C. Clarke and Fred Hoyle. Reynolds's romanticism, however, is not transcendental but purely material, a celebration of the endless possibilities of secular culture and the richness of experience technology promises.

No comments: