Fiction: Some Current Reviews

As usual, our fiction reviews run the gamut from a beloved children’s classic in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King to some that may some day be considered classic. Or not. White’s novel is an Arthurian fantasy that was first published in 1958 and is stitched together from earlier works written between 1938 and 1941 which makes it almost as old as Tolkien’s The Lord of The Rings. Now go read our review to see how it holds up today!

A novel that is being touted as might-be classic is Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Drowned Cities and our reviewer notes the author is ‘favorite of a crop of new, young science fiction writers, and he doesn’t disappoint.’

I think there should be a generation between the publication of any work and when it’s considered by literary critics as a classic. Anything less and it’s just populist opinion being considered as revealed truth. Cases in point being both the Harry Potter  and Twilight series.

Though not likely ever to be part of the literary canon and thereby offered as a textbook in college courses, The Sword and Sorcery Anthology does have some great pulp classics in it such as a Robert E. Howard’s ‘The Tower of the Elephant’, a Conan the Barbarian story and a Michael Moorcock Elric story, ‘The Caravan of Broken Dreams’.

Our reviewer says that ‘to read Rio Youers’ Westlake Soul is to be alternately surprised, amused, delighted and touched, often within the space of a couple of pages. Remarkably inventive and generous of spirit, the book is an open invite – literally, in places – to the reader to kick back, read and enjoy the ruminations of its main character. He’s a hell of a narrator, and he tells a great story.’

Next we have a novel that plays off of classic tropes of literary fiction as the reviewer notes: ‘The protagonist wakes up, not knowing where he is or what his name is. He has some sort of disability or injury, often a horrendous one, and he is surrounded by strangers who seem bent on tormenting him. This sort of plot has been standard in literature from fantasy to sf to horror since Gulliver’s Travels, through modern classics such as Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun.’ So how does Brian Evenson’s Immobility stack up? Rather well according to our reviewer.

Among pulp writers of today, I consider Glen Cook to be among the best and Winter’s Dreams didn’t disappoint: ‘Glen Cook is known for his series — Dread Empire, Black Company, Garrett, P.I., Starfishers, and the like. What we tend to forget is that he has also written short fiction, which is fully up to the standard set in his novels. His newest collection, Winter’s Dreams, offers a good look at his range as a storyteller. Unlike An Empire Unacquainted with Defeat, which was set in the universe of the Dread Empire series, Winter’s Dreams takes us everywhere from the universes of the series to a more than dystopian future America to worlds that are as whimsical as their inhabitants.’

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