Of that generation of mainstream writers who were brought to prominence by the first of Granta‘s Best Young Writers promotions, I steadily lost interest in most of them over the years. Amis fils fell away after just a couple of books, I managed four by Pat Barker before losing interest, it was pretty much the same with Julian Barnes, and the last few novels by Ian McEwan were so dull that the most recent has been sitting on my to-be-read pile for a couple of years without me ever feeling like opening it. Only William Boyd and Graham Swift have, for rather different reasons, stayed the course: I enjoy the historical sweep of Boyd’s novels at his best, and the narrow focus of Swift’s at his best. Continue reading
Angela Carter, C.P. Snow, Carter Scholz, Charles Dickens, Charles Harness, Clifford D. Simak, Connie Willis, Don DeLillo, Frank Herbert, Gregory Benford, Iain Pears, Ian McEwan, Ian Watson, John Banville, Jonathan Swift, Lucius Shepard, Michael Crichton, Nancy Kress, Pamela Zoline, Piers Anthony, Rafael Carter, Roger Zelazny, Russell McCormmach, Thomas More, William Boyd
Another of my Cognitive Mapping columns. This one first appeared in Vector 211, May-June 2000.
Aldous Huxley, Arthur C Clarke, Bob Shaw, Brian Aldiss, Christopher Priest, Ed Bryant, Eric Frank Russell, Eric Rohmer, Gardner Dozois, George Orwell, George R.R. Martin, Graham Greene, Graham Swift, H.G. Wells, Ian McEwan, J.G. Ballard, Jack Dann, Jerry Pournelle, John Clute, John Fowles, John Jarrold, John Sladek, Kazuo Ishiguro, m john harrison, Martin Amis, Olaf Stapledon, Peter Ackroyd, Philip K. Dick, Rebecca West, Richard Cowper, Roz Kaveney, Thomas Huxley, Thomas M. Disch, William Boyd
I’ve written a lot about Chris Priest over the years, and most of it has ended up in What It Is We Do When We Read Science Fiction or Call And Response, but there is one major piece that hasn’t been reprinted. It is this interview I did with him in 1999, not long after the publication of The Extremes and The Dream Archipelago. The interview was first published in Vector 206, July-August 1999.
THROWING AWAY THE ORTHODOXY
A conversation about sex, innocence and science fiction
Paul Kincaid: Let’s start at the end. You have just brought out all the Dream Archipelago stories collected in one volume. Why have you gone back to that?
Christopher Priest: Well, there’s a bad reason and a good reason.
Let’s have the bad reason. Continue reading
Bamboo by William Boyd – an overlong collection of his essays and reviews. I would have edited this down quite severely. There are several weak pieces, particularly early in the book, which makes it difficult to keep reading at times. There are multiple pieces on certain subjects (most notably Evelyn Waugh and Ken Saro Wiwa) which contain far too many repetitions, and would have benefitted from being edited in a single piece. And there are too many essays that employ the most irritating trick of his short fiction: the A-Z list. I hate these in his collections of short stories, and I hate them just as much here. But all that being said, there is still an awful lot of really good stuff here. Some of the pieces on Waugh, for example, do make you wish he had done a longer and more serious analysis, and there is a wonderful little essay about a visit to a one-horse town in the American South inspired by a Wallace Stevens poem. He is an accomplished book reviewer (within a fairly narrowly defined range), and his art criticism is both fresh and engaging (as you might expect from the author of Nat Tate.
First published at LiveJournal, 2 May 2007.