Tuesday, October 03, 2017

New Scientist Column: Maggie Shen King, M.T. Anderson, and Dave Hutchinson

My latest column at The New Scientist has a relationship focus: in Maggie Shen King's debut novel An Excess Male, China's one child policy leads to a population of unmarriageable men who are encouraged to enter into polyandrous arrangements.  There's a definite whiff of The Handmaid's Tale wafting over this novel (which, along with last year's The Power, leads me to wonder if we're seeing a mini-trend of SF that recalls that classic, thirty years on), but what's most interesting about An Excess Male is that it isn't a dystopia, and remains intriguingly open-minded about the possibility of creating a good family in such an awkward situation.

Somewhat less hopeful about the possibility for romance in a futuristically altered world is M.T. Anderson's Landscape With Invisible Hand, his first foray back into YA fiction since the transcendent Octavian Nothing duology.  I describe the story as The Hunger Games meets Black Mirror's "Fifteen Million Merits", which is definitely a compliment.

I was less thrilled by Dave Hutchinson's novella Acadie.  Those looking for more Le Carré-esque spy-and-geopolitics shenanigans in the vein of Hutchinson's Fractured Europe books will find something very different.  One assumes that this was a deliberate choice on Hutchinson's part, but it pays off very few dividends in this case.

2 comments:

Yusuf Smith said...

Kazuo Ishiguro won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Interested in your response.

Abigail Nussbaum said...

As I said on twitter, The Buried Giant is the first book I've read in a long time that I genuinely disliked, and I wasn't crazy about Never Let Me Go either, so that is not a decision I can get behind. That said, I'm not that invested in the literature Nobel - I consider it more of a scandal that, for example, The Underground Railroad was left off the Booker shortlist.

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