Wednesday, January 28
Contrast: Big Fish, the drive to process life through writing and talking, the mechanics of oral history.
And yet: Didn't you ever find yourself bothered by English professoresque assumptions that our lives and our relationships are narratives? Yes, I have stories. Sometimes I am in stories. Do I really need to be a story?
I read John Brunner's Stand on Zanzibar the day before yesterday, and found myself less impressed than I wanted to be. The Shockwave Rider is still one of the most amazing pieces of SF I've ever read, in terms of technique and content both. The other three of his (non?) novels I've read have me pretty convinced that Brunner tended to undermine his own brilliance. Which is a damn shame, because he was brilliant.
It's not that Zanzibar is by any means a total failure. Elements of its plot wander into dead ends, and it ultimately seems flattened by the dreariness of some of its conclusions - but that's not all that's going on. Brunner calls this a non-novel, and for a good part of its length it is something experimental. The experiment tends to work.
This old alt.cyberpunk post says that Brunner was doing a riff on John Dos Passos, who I've never read but maybe should.