Saturday, September 20, 2008

Stephenson makes Seattle proud

It's good to have a neighbor like Neal Stephenson. He doesn't live that close to me by Seattle standards...he's on Capitol Hill and I'm in Belltown. Still, it's good to know that a mind like his is a few minutes away by cab.

Stephenson just released his latest opus Anathem. Love the thing about his books that routinely catch my attention.

In the linked Matthew Bey article, the book critique starts with a bothersome point like: Arbre is a transparent metaphor for America's Wal-Mart culture.

Personally, I like the confidence an author like Stephenson has to plainly point out the culture flaws of today. No need to mix it up so much that it's completely up to conjecture. So, to me, this isn't really a critique as much as a characteristic of Stephenson's style.

Bey does go on to praise the book. He reassures us readers that Stephenson has done another good job. So, as a local writer, I'm proud to be part of the Seattle brethren. Another fine job according to to get my hands on the book.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Doctorow's Someone Comes to Town...

Lots of speculative fiction fans have heard of Cory Doctorow. How do I know this? His name has appeared in so many magazines and on so many Web sites merely by chance that it must be true...considering my penchant for reading and writing about speculative fiction

If you're a similar enthusiast, you may go searching for interesting authors via reading lists or blogs. However, may I suggest my "recurrence method." It's not a documented approach...I'm musing right now. Rather, it's the way to find new authors to read by their frequency of appearance. That's truly why I just read Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town. A book of his first published in 2006.

It's not Doctorow's first book or his most recent one. I actually selected it when intentionally searching for any book bearing his name at a bookstore. There was an autographed copy of the novel so I bought it. No critical recommendations. No word-of-mouth from a friend. Just trusted my instincts.

Not your typical speculative fiction. This isn't Huxley or Asimov style future-musing material. Doctorow has written a wild fantasy in this novel.

There is one critique in the intro pages that perfectly captures my feelings about it...can't remember exactly how it goes but the essence is this: after being a bit bothered earlier on, I was pleasantly surprised how I was pulled in and enjoyed it.

If you like books adhering to formulas or writers who play by the rules, you'll hate this book to be sure. However, I remember thinking that Stephen King was a wild man the way he wrote The Shining. Creating the different thought patterns, he stretched style rules to the limit.

Doctorow does very similar things in Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town and he does it in his own fresh way. He may not write your typical speculative fiction but he's an author I'd recommend reading.