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Women in SF #5

The Dry Salvages by Caitlin R. Kiernan What a gift of a book. Kiernan’s novella The Dry Salvages was published as a standalone in 2004 by Subterranean. It won no awards, and so far as I’ve been able to ascertain, it wasn’t even nominated for any. I can only assume this was because its limited [...]

Necessary drudgery

“Ninety years on from Virginia Woolf’s essay [Character in Fiction], the market into which novels get pitched is still deeply conservative: the choosing of what gets published, reviewed, wins prizes. But the novel is not ruled by the market. Kate Webb, reviewing Every Day is for the Thief in the TLS in July this year, suggested [...]

Digging for gold

The shortlist for the Goldsmith’s Prize – inaugurated last year specifically for ‘fiction at its most novel’ – has just been announced: Outline by Rachel Cusk (Faber & Faber) The Absent Therapist by Will Eaves (CB Editions) J by Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape) The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound) In The Light Of What We [...]

Flesh and Bones

“Kevern, look. I don’t know when your mother did these, but they are of another time. Art has changed. We have returned to the primordial celebration of the loveliness of the natural world. You  can see there is none of that in what your mother did. See how fractured her images are. There is no [...]

I have been here before

My first encounter with J. B. Priestley’s time plays was in a 1983 BBC adaptation of his 1932 play Dangerous Corner, starring a young Daniel Day Lewis in the role of Gordon. The play explores what happens in two alternate versions of reality – one in which certain secrets happen to be revealed, the other in [...]

Wood for the trees

“Meaning is a bit of a bore, but storytelling is alive. The novel form can be difficult, cumbrously serious; storytelling is all pleasure, fantastical in its fertility, its ceaseless inventiveness. Easy to consume, too, because it excites hunger while simultaneously satisfying it: we continuously want more.The novel now aspires to the regality of the boxed DVD [...]

fragment

When you think of all the ways that a person can die, the powerlessness we feel in the face of cancer, or a violent earthquake or even simple old age, it would seem to be the ultimate expression of human madness to set about inventing new ways to kill one another. When you think even [...]

On reflection

Writer and arts project manager Irenosen Okojie had this to say in today’s Observer about the Booker Prize longlist: “If the panel was more diverse, then perhaps the list would be more inclusive. Here’s a radical idea – next time, perhaps the panel could be made up of an equal number of men and women [...]

Back in the Lot

While boxing up books this week, I’ve had Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot on audiobook to keep me company. I think I’m right in saying that SL is actually the first of King’s novels I ever had contact with – not through the text, but through Tobe Hooper’s 1979 TV adaptation, starring David Soul and James [...]

On playing catch-up

David Hebblethwaite of Follow the Thread recently wrote this fascinating post about his recent experience of being a ‘shadow judge’ for this year’s Desmond Elliot Prize and Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, as well as reading and critiquing this year’s Clarke Award shortlist and last year’s Man Booker. The conclusions he draws are worrying for SFF: [...]