sexta-feira, outubro 30, 2015

Unreliable Memories: "The Last Witness" by K. J. Parker/Tom Holt



“I’ve been told I have an unforgettable face. Ironic, really.


I have a gift; I can browse through the library of your mind and remove individual memories. You’ll never know I was there, and you’ll never miss what was taken. Useful for grieving widowers, more so for ambitious politicians.
But I’m holding so many memories I’m not always sure which ones are actually mine.
Some of them are sensitive; all of them are private. And there are those who are willing to kill to access the secrets I’m trying to bury…”

Is SF dead in 2015?

I'm not sure. I've stopped reading some current SF because sometimes the feeling of deja vu is so strong that I cannot keep on reading the stuff I'm holding in my hands.

Is the problem the fact that technology seems to have stopped? Where are the new technological equivalent artifacts like the warp drives and teleportation that first appeared in the Golden Age of SF? Did SF writers really run out of ideas? I think the problem has less to do with the inability to imagine new technologies, but rather with the fact that these artifacts are utterly absent from our everyday lives. Many of the SFional things we keep turning to in our lives come from a need, and not from an inability to imagine beyond the realms of reality.  Whether the functions of a real world warp drive will be the same as described in the Star Trek universe is not really important. What matters to me is the symbolic idea of the device itself.

This to talk about the SF of K. J. Parker. Without using technology, Parker always seems able to churn out stuff that looks brand "new" SF-wise. I'm not sure what it is. I've been reading and writing about Parker's work since 2013 (see links below), and I keep bumping into new things each time I tackle one of his works.

When I started reading it, I felt something different. First of all, the first-person narrative is the real protagonist; I think, this is the first time where a Parker book is told in this mode. It’s a very personal rendering of the story, and it worked wonders to its texture.  In mundane fiction, the use of the unreliable narrator is not uncommon. In SF not so much. Using first-person narrative makes different demands and steeper demands on the writer’s ability. And let’s be frank about it. Some SF “writers” are plain little plodders. I could name a few, but I won’t, in case they happen to run across my diatribes.

Reading Parker/Holt, one can say with certainty that SF is not dead.

Writing from the Gray Zone: "Academic Exercises" by K. J. Parker
"The Folding Knife" by K.J. Parker

NB1: This is the first of a Parker work I’ve reviewed where his identity is already fully disclosed.
NB2: The cover is simply awful...


SF = Speculative Fiction.

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