Dystopia In Forty Stories

images.jpgDespite the conventional narrative of Empire of the Sun, Ballard is probably better known for the science fiction slant in his fiction, especially related to future, generally dystopian, societies.

His novel, High-Rise (I. G. H. in Europe) is the distillation of many elements of a dystopian future into a single high-rise building. The idea is good, although not that original (although a decidedly different and vastly superior novel, make sure you read Georges Perec’s Life A User’s Manual [La Vie mode d’emploi]). Ballard envisions a cluster of self-contained forty story condominiums, one of which is the focus of the novel.

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Polly Is a Polyglot

download.pngWhat does an author need to transform a generally boring historical spoof on the state of pirates, global exploration, and religious persecution in the late fifteenth century? The obvious answer is an African gray parrot providing the narration and splattering it with more Yiddish terms than you’ll ever hear on the Grand Concourse.

Let’s face it, insertion of common and even obscure Yiddish allows the writer to forego any subtlety in his manufactured prose: just toss in a Yiddish exclamation and transform a clichéd pirate image into something that passes for new and fresh.

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Twenty More

images-1.jpgI received several comments to my first list of twenty authors to add to your reading list, mostly suggesting additional authors I had not mentioned. In one case I responded that I actually had the suggested author on my list but I lost it when I reduced the list to only twenty names.

Since then I have realized that I have more than twenty additional authors who should be recognized and added to all those more traditional reading lists. For now I offer yet another twenty valuable writers I have found stimulating and I highly recommend them to everyone.

You might not recognize some of the authors but several are actually quite well known and often highly rewarded writers. Notice that this list focuses on writers who probably did not write originally in English. Of course translations are generally available but I also want to encourage those who are able to read the original language, even if with great difficulty, to read the original as it was written by the author.

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