21 June 2010

Reality Narrative Death Point

My latest Strange Horizons column has just been posted, and it's a sort of meditation on four books: Reality Hunger by David Shields, Narrative Power edited by L. Timmel Duchamp, Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor, and Vanishing Point by Ander Monson.

All four books are well worth reading, thinking about, arguing with. I especially hope that in the wake of Paul Di Filippo's review of Who Fears Death in the B&N Review that the column will offer an alternative way of evaluating the novel. For the way Di Filippo read the book, I think his assessment is valid, but he read it in the most narrow and silly way possible, the way someone who's only ever read science fiction would read. And I know he hasn't only read science fiction, so I'm perplexed at the assumptions he applies. I agree with his desire for fewer savior of the world/universe/everything characters, and in fact once wrote another SH column about it, but I think there's abundant evidence in the text that Okorafor is a smart writer who is as aware of this paradigm as anybody else, and is both using and critiquing it in complex, multi-layered ways, just as she is simultaneously using and critiquing other tropes, tendencies, templates -- not all of them from SF -- throughout the novel.