intense sensations

Posts Tagged ‘science fiction

Elric of Melniboné (Elric, #1)Elric of Melniboné by Michael Moorcock

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is very good. The first time I read it I didn’t appreciate it. It seemed too simplistic. The characterisation seemed too stark. He was going for the easy options, I thought. The big themes. Hyperbole. Hyperdrama.

Then I read a whole lot of fantasy and science fiction novels.

In the meantime Michael Moorcock’s prose has improved. His insights have deepened. His characterisation has become more subtle. His descriptive powers have been strengthened and his tastes have become more refined.

When I got to the end this time I wanted to start again from the beginning.

I didn’t, of course, because I have shelfloads of books to review. Erotica to write.  A blog to maintain.

I can see how this has influenced other writers. Perhaps it will influence me.

It probably already has.

I may not embrace the incestuous theme but I will definitely be getting more, more, more Moorcock.

Wave of MutilationWave of Mutilation by Douglas Lain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This seems to be a very good time for science fiction. I was prompted to explore some of it partly on the strength of this novella, which hit me like a blow between the eyes and left me breathless and dizzy for a few days.

The writing is very smooth and controlled. I love clean, precise writing like this, especially when it involves a swimming pool and the promise of sensuality. This drew me in and took me swiftly to the end of the first chapter, where I received my first shock.

I won’t tell you too much more about the plot. There’s some science stuff and a little problem with a particle accelerator. Reality takes a bit of a knock. Strange things start to happen. There is some sex, lots of nudity, some cross-dressing and a birth of sorts. But it’s all a little bit surreal.

Perhaps it’s also a little bit old-fashioned. Think Dada and Derrida, Brecht and Barthes. You might get all kinds of dubious intellectuals latching onto this and confusing you with their philosophical babble about it.

The thing you’ve got to hang onto and not forget is that the book is short and really easy to read. It’s also funny and light.

When dealing with elusive concepts, it’s very important to keep your writing plain and concrete. This the author does with admirable consistency. The ending couldn’t be clearer.

I’d never heard of Douglas Lain before and still don’t know very much about him. He seems to be one of those cult science fiction writers who carves out his own niche and tries not to get noticed too much.

But it’s probably wrong to call this a science fiction book. It’s probably better categorised as literary philosophy.

But it’s all just words, really. Read it for yourself and make up your own mind. Or don’t. It’s up to you.

Vanessa Wu is the author of Love Has No Limits

Conmergence: An Anthology of Speculative FictionConmergence: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction by Tara Maya
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It’s commonly suggested that it’s harder to write good short stories than to write good novels because in a short story there’s less space to set the scene and develop characters. First of all, I don’t agree with this. There’s no room for flabby prose in a good novel either and short stories are easier to edit because they are shorter.

But, whatever your form, it’s very hard to capture a reader’s interest immediately. And in a short story it’s very hard to take your reader on a journey that will leave him or her feeling satisfied.

If that is hard to do in a short story, it’s even harder in a science fiction or fantasy story, in which the world inhabited by the characters may be very different from our own.

Tara Maya doesn’t seem to be aware of any of these difficulties. She writes easily, fluently and eloquently as if she were born writing stories about strange people in exotic lands. There are no false notes, no awkward explanations, no loose ends. The surprises, when they come, are well prepared. The characters do develop and so does our understanding of them.

I got a lot of pleasure from these stories and I’d like to read more of Tara Maya’s work. I especially enjoyed her story called Portrait of a Pretender. There were a couple of sentences in there that were far more erotic than a whole slew of stories by some erotica writers I’ve sampled recently.

Vanessa Wu is the author of Love Has No Limits


Books by Vanessa Wu

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