Saturday, July 21, 2012

Library of America: On the Long Tomorrow - Nicola Griffith

"The opening of The Long Tomorrow reads like a King James Bible for the American myth: sure, rhythmic, and implacable. Brackett sets up her major theme in the first sentence: knowledge is sin, and fourteen-year-old Len Colter is about to take the step that will lead to his loss of Eden. This is the theme of the Bildungsroman: loss of innocence, change, and the journey from safety into the unknown in pursuit of knowledge. But because Brackett's ambition was huge, she chose for her setting a post-nuclear Ruined Earth. She aimed for no less than the first serious science fiction novel of character. In mid-century North America, I doubt there was any writer better equipped for the challenge." 3.5 out of 5

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Leigh Brackett: American Writer - Howard Andrew Jones

"This 4th of July I thought I’d take a look at one of my very favorite writers, the late, great Leigh Brackett, queen of planetary adventure. Only a few generations ago planetary adventure fiction had a few givens. First, it usually took place in our own solar system. Second, our own solar system was stuffed with inhabitable planets. Everyone knew that Mercury baked on one side and froze on the other, but a narrow twilight band existed between the two extremes where life might thrive. Venus was hot and swampy, like prehistoric Earth had been, and Mars was a faded and dying world kept alive by the extensive canals that brought water down from the ice caps. To enjoy Brackett, you have to get over the fact that none of this is real — which really shouldn’t be hard if you enjoy reading about vampires, telepaths, and dragons, but hey, there you go. Yeah, Mars doesn’t have a breathable atmosphere, or canals, or ancient races. If you don’t read her because you can’t get past that, you’re a fuddy duddy and probably don’t like ice cream." 3.5 out of 5