sábado, dezembro 02, 2017

The SF Lamp was Broken: "Six of Crows" by Leigh Bardugo



After having finished “Six of Crows”, I would encourage anyone to consider the potential for SF to help us all drop our lazy assumptions about Realism, mimesis, and how any writing made up of words upon a page ever really relates to or captures some discernible, locatable "real world." As someone who prefers poetry over novels (Yep. I know I'm built that way), I turn to SF (science-fiction, weird fiction, fantasy) for the same sort of liberation from the tyrannous fantasy of the Real. Forget the mirror; look to the Lamp. Every piece of fiction is just that, fiction, and for those who read attentively and with appreciation of the power of the imagination. Dickens's London in “Bleak House” and Eliot's “Middlemarch” are just as artificial and speculative and weird as Carroll's “Looking Glass” world or Stoker's “Transylvania” or Barrie's “Neverland” or Mirrlees “Lud-in-the-Mist” or Jack Vance's “Dying Earth” or Peake's “Gormenghast” or China Mieville's “New Crobuzon”. All of these fantastic places are projections of the imagination. All of them hold prime value in the way they transport us away from our easy assumptions about what is real and then return us, much changed.

In his Lectures on Literature, Nabokov is quite good at pointing out the need to redraw our maps and drop our assumptions. The gist of what he says is that every time we open a novel we are visiting a new potential world, very different from our own ideas about our own world, and we will be sorely misguided unless we redraw our maps and learn to see difference everywhere.

Finally, I must admit that I am drawn to SF for its decadent, art-for-art's sake aspects. Because I was taught Victorian poetry at the British Council, it reminds of me of Swinburne's urgent lesson. It matters not whether the art deals with Past or Present or Future or something apparently unknown. Instead, what matters is the excellence of the writing, the breadth of the imagination.

Love and the idea of love aren't so different. Like cheese on the farm and processed cheese, those who've experienced one and not the other have no way of knowing the difference. Yet the distance between the word and the thing is infinite. Either suffices because like everything else in this world, we have what we have and we only know what we lack (beyond flesh's necessities) because others tell us so. With proper programming, at least a spouse-bot won't remind us of what we lack. If I want to read "romancy SF", I’ll choose it myself. I don’t want to read a romance novel disguised as SF.

At the end of “Six of Crows”, I felt the Real was not kept at bay because the Lamp was broken.



SF = Speculative Fiction.

5 comentários:

Book Stooge disse...

Spousebots.

Hehehehehee. That word alone made this review worth it.

I really liked your cheese analogy. What gets me is when people want ALL cheese to be processed american cheese and who can't genuinely understand when some of us want to slice off a chunk of cheddar with a sharp knife.

And a fist of solidarity against romance masquerading as SF. I've seen way too many instances of it happening so now I'm rather wary of female writers in the SF genre. Once burned, twice shy.

Luís Filipe Franco disse...

Translation, please! From what I know from you I synthesize your review of this book: you're flabbergasted:)! ( thinking on Lewis Carroll's world by Tim Burton):).

Manuel Antão disse...

Luis, I was flabbergasted because I'm still reading crappy SF...2 stars that's what I gave this shitty book... sometimes my writing is not very straightforward. I apologise. I hate romancy stuff disguised as SF...

Manuel Antão disse...

Bookstooge, the way we eat cheese reveals who we are... and romancy stuff disguised as SF. What's the world coming to????????????????????? Someone told me it was high-octane SF. GOOD GRIEF!! Smooching, eyelash batting galore...

Book Stooge disse...

Ok, Dr Manuel, please psychoanalyze me according to the precepts of Cheesedom!

My self analysis is that I am the most manly man to have ever done anything :-D