Showing posts from June, 2021

The Ministry for the Future by Kim Stanley Robinson

"Obviously we have to do better," she said. "The Paris Agreement was created to avoid tragedies like this one. We are all in a single global village now. We share the same air and water, and so this disaster has happened to all of us. Since we can't undo it, we have to turn it to the good somehow, or two things will happen; the crimes in it will go unatoned, and more such disasters will happen. So we have to act. At long last, we have to take the climate situation seriously, as the reality that overrides everything else. We have to act on what we know." It's a bit strange to talk about a breakout novel for Kim Stanley Robinson, an author in his late sixties who has been publishing prolifically for nearly forty years, and who has won some of science fiction's most prestigious awards and accolades. Nevertheless, the conversation surrounding The Ministry for the Future has the air of crowning a new it guy, from interviews in Rolling Stone to a spot on for

Review: We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry, at Strange Horizons

My review of Quan Barry's novel We Ride Upon Sticks is up today at Strange Horizons . As I write in the opening paragraph, this is a novel whose premise will either instantly capture you or put you off completely. In 1989, the girls' field hockey team in a suburban high school sell their soul to the devil—here embodied as a composition notebook with Emilio Estevez's face on the front—for a chance at winning the championship. It's a familiar trope—and Barry revels in it, placing her story in the historical setting of the Salem witch trials—but with a fairly unusual twist. After all, very few witch stories imagine witches whose goal is dominance in sports. One by one, the Falcons sign their name in the notebook, which they come to perceive as a sentient force, known as The Darkness or, more commonly, Emilio. They tie a strip of athletic sock on their bicep and swear to "[follow] any urges you might get all the way to the end no matter what" (p. 15). And just l

Five Comments on The Underground Railroad

Barry Jenkins's ten-part adaptation of Colson Whitehead's 2016 novel The Underground Railroad was released in full on Amazon last month, and seems to have promptly sunk like a stone. Beyond a spate of initial ( and mostly effusive ) reviews , discussion of it seems to be nonexistent. My twitter feed spent more time obsessing over Mare of Easttown —a well-made but pedestrian cop thriller (not to mention, heavily derivative of Happy Valley )—than it did over what was supposedly one of the major TV events of the year, the first foray in the medium of an Oscar-winning director, adapting a book that had won a Pulitzer and National Book Award (not to mention, a Clarke Award). There are reasons for this muted response, and we'll get into them in a minute. But for now what's significant about it is that it leaves me feeling bereft, of the conversations I'd like to get into after finishing the show. The Underground Railroad is a stone cold masterpiece, one that not only