16 May 2008

New SF Site

The latest issue of the venerable SF Site has been posted, and it contains a review I wrote of Paul McAuley's 1995 novel Fairyland, a book I enjoyed quite a bit. General busy-ness has kept me from writing for SF Site for a while, and it's nice to be back. (Next up for them will probably be a review of Ursula LeGuin's recent YA trilogy, but I doubt I'll have time to get to it for a few months, alas.)

Here's a snippet from the review:
The effort to distinguish between "science fiction" and "fantasy" is a futile and exhausted one, but part of the fun of Fairyland lies in watching Paul McAuley take words common to the vocabulary of high fantasy stories -- "fairy," "fey," "trolls," etc. -- and employ them within the unambiguously science fictional setting of a nanotechnologized future of virtual realities and designer diseases. It’s a simple conceit, but not a jokey one, because the terms lend the novel depth, linking the forward momentum of the future world to the backward glance of legends and folktales. (It's particularly appropriate that Fairyland won the Clarke Award, since one of Sir Arthur's most famous statements was that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.") There's a metafictional effect, too, drawing our attention to the novel's genre play, daring us to impose our assumptions about what is possible and what is not, both in reality and in fiction.

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