24 July 2006

Emerald City 131

Cheryl Morgan has posted the latest issue of Emerald City online, and it's a particularly fun issue, because she offers an editorial on reviewing and bribes and, within the context of a review of Charles Stross's new novel, essentialism (which ties in rather well with the Adam Roberts post at The Valve that I linked to earlier).

I often get frustrated with reviews that go off on a philosophical or political tangent based on the thematic content of a novel, but in this case I like how Cheryl handled it -- we get a sense of the book, her perception of its strengths and weaknesses, and then a mini-essay about essentialism, which makes the review itself a provocative read. Now I look forward to sitting back and watching how people respond to her ideas...


  1. Anyone who missed out on the backstory to Cheryl's editorial, the original comment thread is here.

  2. Thanks, Liz. Yes: my only comment on Cheryl's editorial is that I think she's misreading what I said on the original thread - in my first comment there, for instance, I said I thought the word bribes was too loaded to provoke a useful discussion - and I'd be happy for people to read the thread itself and form their own views about what I was getting at.

    Matt, re essentialism, there's a whole other debate here to be had but I need to think some more; I just read a Germaine Greer review of James/Jan Morris's sex-change autobiography Conundrum which takes a *very* hard-line essentialist position, and I need to work out why it is that I disagree with her...

  3. Well, you could spend a lifetime reading all of the philosophical debates related to essentialism and its kin, but one perspective I encountered recently and enjoyed (sometimes because I agreed with it, sometimes because I got angry at it and wanted to figure out why) was The Trouble with Nature by Roger Lancaster.