Jonathan Franzen is an easily understood genius

At some point Jonathan Franzen decided to write easily understood works of literary genius. It was likely while writing his 1994 essay Perchance to Dream which tries to find some purpose for the novel in the technological consumer culture of the late 20th / early 21st century (alternate title “Why Bother?”) It’s a decision that hasContinue reading “Jonathan Franzen is an easily understood genius”

How difficult is it to write a good book?

Here’s an interesting experiment you can replicate if you ever have a class of creative writing students. I’ve tried it a number of times. Give the students a set of writing samples. Have them sort through the samples and categorise them as “good” or “not good”. Regardless of the level of experience of the students,Continue reading “How difficult is it to write a good book?”

Does God have a place in science fiction?

If SF is grounded in hard scientific fact, and science is killing God, then what place does that leave for divine intervention in the pages of SF literature? When I tweeted this question, @MirabilisDave gave Arthur C Clarke’s famous dictum a twist, quipping that “Any sufficiently advanced technocrat will be indistinguishable from God.” Read moreContinue reading “Does God have a place in science fiction?”

Meta-content is the future of the book

This evening I bought Jeffrey Eugenides ‘The Marriage Plot’ from the Amazon Kindle store. I would love to say that I always buy books when it would be just as easy to download a pirate version for free, but I would be being  dishonest. But buying the book has recently become a far more likelyContinue reading “Meta-content is the future of the book”