I’d like to take some time to talk about the impact of simple truths and how perceptions long thought changed need regular revisits so we don’t forget. We become comfortable after tectonic changes occur that alter the landscape, so comfortable we sometimes get caught by surprise when an example of what we believed was long gone springs up before us, not nearly as banished as we’d thought. We forget, most of us.
And yes, this is about science fiction and fantasy. Really.
I collected the original run of Terry Carr’s groundbreaking Ace Specials back when they first appeared in the late Sixties. Some truly phenomenal work came out under that imprint, work still published and read today.
Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, Alexi Panshin’s Rite of Passage, Keith Roberts’ Pavane, The Black Corridor and Warlord of the Air by Michael Moorcock. A number of others that were influential but you have to search for them today, work by Wilson Tucker, Bob Shaw, and Joanna Russ.
Among them was a little novel by a writer not much talked about today except in certain “knowing” circles — James Schmitz. The novel was The Demon Breed and it featured a character that just riveted me.
Tough, smart, capable, a role model for anyone who wanted to grow up competent and self-assured and substantial. Nile Etland.
Read More Read More
Paxton Martin has come home to Switchcreek, Tennessee, to attend the funeral of a childhood friend. He drove in from Chicago, pulling an all-nighter, because he could not decide until the last minute if he wanted to go back. He’d been living in Chicago since running away from Switchcreek, 13 years ago, after everything changed.
The opening of any number of novels, classic in its prodigal simplicity, promising Faulknerian brambles with a dash of Wolf (Thomas that is) and a thread of O’Connor. The returning son of the local preacher, reconnecting, abrading old scabs, stirring nearly-dead ashes, the stuff of Americana along gothic lines. The changes, of course, mask how much everything has remained pretty much the same. After a time, one can even overlook those changes…
Not in Daryl Gregory’s second novel, The Devil’s Alphabet. The changes in this case cannot be ignored. By anyone.
Switchcreek has undergone a profound experience in the form of mutations which swept through the small population, transforming many residents into distinctly divergent species. The genetic instructions for these people have been rewritten by some unknown process, which did not strike all people. When the changes worked their way through, Switchcreek was home to populations of what became known as Argos, Betas, and Charlies, as well as the untouched population.
Read More Read More