Hey, Easter has come … and gone. That rather crept up on me. Anyway, I need to take a few days break, but here’s some stuff to keep you amused while I’m away from the blog.
It’s a boom time for dystopias, or so the New York Times tells us in this article, which surveys a number of the books we noted as coming out this month, but which focuses on Omar El Akkad and his debut novel, American War.
Actually, the New York Times could be right: there seems to be an awful lot about dystopia out there at the moment. The policies of Donald Trump have reminded people all too uncomfortably of Margaret Atwood’s classic feminist dystopia, The Handmaid’s Tale (which has now been turned into a television drama); and that is the starting point for this article about feminist dystopias. While Atwood herself is labelled the Prophet of Dystopia in this New Yorker profile.
Of course, most dystopias these days relate to environmental collapse, probably because we can already see signs of climate change all around us yet politicians across the world seem to assume that as long as they do nothing it isn’t really happening. So you get James Bradley writing The Silent Invasion, which is, as he explains, a novel for teenagers about catastrophic climate change.
And then, of course, there’s New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson, here explaining to Scientific American how he flooded Manhattan. And while we’re on the subject of Kim Stanley Robinson, here’s a report of a conversation he took part in recently with Francis Spufford, author of Golden Hill and Adam Roberts, author of The Thing Itself.
Speaking of Adam Roberts, he is continuing his reading of the complete works of H.G. Wells. Most recently he has reached The First Men in the Moon, which he writes about here, and which has prompted him to write his own sequel to that classic novel, “The Second Men in the Moon“. Roberts has also gone on to write a long post about Wells’s mermaid fantasy, The Sea Lady.
We’ve recently passed the 25th anniversary of the death of another great master of science fiction, Isaac Asimov, author of Foundation among many, many other classic works. In fact it has been estimated that if you were to match his entire written output you would need to write a full-length novel every two weeks for 25 years. How did he sustain such a prolific work rate? The key is here.
John Scalzi isn’t quite as prolific as Isaac Asimov (who is?) but he has still managed a steady output of bestselling books over the last few years. His latest, The Collapsing Empire, is just out. Here he shares his seven tips for writing a bestseller. The Collapsing Empire is the first volume in his 10-year, 13-book, $3.4 million contract with Tor, and here he talks about what that deal means for him and for the publishing industry.
Now, here’s a little quiz: we can all name dozens, maybe hundreds, of books in which the Nazis won the Second World War. But how many alternate histories start with the First World War? Not so easy to think of, is it? There are a few, but despite the way that war changed a continent there seem to have been very few turning points that could have changed history. But here is a fascinating article that might kick start a few new alternate histories: David Frum of The Atlantic considers what might have happened if the Allies had lost the First World War.
Finally, are you ready to meet the neighbours? Looks like there’s a possibility of life on one of the moons of Saturn.
See you in a little over a week.
From Nebula and Hugo Award–nominated Carolyn Ives Gilman comes Dark Orbit, a compelling novel featuring alien contact, mystery, and murder.
Reports of a strange, new habitable planet have reached the Twenty Planets of human civilization. When a team of scientists is assembled to investigate this world, exoethnologist Sara Callicot is recruited to keep an eye on an unstable crewmate.