Up until page 35 of Michael Moorcock’s brilliant new fabulaic book, The Whispering Swarm, you assume you are reading a straightforward roman a clef, a subtly transmogrified autobiographical memoir of a young fellow named Michael Moorcock… But then onto the mundane scene comes one Friar Isadore, a strange humble little chap who is a member of the secretive order known as the White Friars.
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Van Eekhout’s scrupulously crafted language continues to flaunt that Zelazny-esque balance of demotic and poetic. He is very kind to his readers by putting lots of background info up front to bring newbies up to speed. But really, this sequel is merely the second half of a single long narrative…
While World of Trouble is bleak, it is also beautiful in its own way, and redemptive. And unlike other episodic stories about the end of the world, this one pays off by the time the apocalypse arrives.
Asaro plants herself firmly into that grand SF tradition of future history franchises favored by luminaries like Heinlein, Asimov, Herbert, Anderson, Dickson, Niven, Cherryh, and Baxter. It really seems to me that any future mention of this stefnal lineage must include her name as a worthy exemplar.
The main reason The Three-Body Problem is noteworthy is that it’s for the most part a compelling piece of work, brilliantly translated by Ken Liu, whose astonishing control of tone lets us experience the novel as a speculative thriller without losing the sense of Chinese language and culture that makes it uniquely different from the familiar rhythms of Western SF.
If Carol Emshwiller oblique and delicate had collaborated with Samuel Delany straightforward and blunt then the result might resemble Jennifer Brissett’s impressive debut novel, Elysium, a kind of fantasia on identity and character, what is superficial and what is central to both.