Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NYRSF on the Neanderthal Parallax

I had cause to look at a back issue of the Hugo Award-nominated The New York Review of Science Fiction today. Richard Parent wrote a fascinating 5,000-word essay about my novels Hominids, Humans, and Hybrids for the June 2004 issue entitled "Double Vision: Robert Sawyer's Utopian Dystopia." Students studying those books will find much meat there. The first paragraph:
Robert J. Sawyer's ambitious new trilogy, The Neanderthal Parallax, presents a provocative challenge to literary analysis -- its hybridized nature brings together utopian, dystopian, and traditional sf tropes. Though genre seepage is not a new phenomenon by any measure, Sawyer's series shifts tone and emphasis at breakneck speed, switching between its personalities with Sybil-like suddenness. What begins as page-turning sf quickly becomes old-school utopia, abandoning all signs of sf. Soon enough, utopia itself is replaced with dystopia, and it is almost as if Bellamy's Julian West, from Looking Backward, had awakened in 1984, not 2000. For the rest of the trilogy, Sawyer flashes moments of each of his three modes before our eyes, never allowing any one of them to become dominant and thus define the series. Even more intriguing than Sawyer's deftness at writing in multiple styles, though, is his ability to make the Neanderthal gestalt an enjoyable read, no matter how much or how often each of the traditions interferes with the others. In this article I will explore the resonance and interference resulting from Sawyer's blending of genres and traditions into a single narrative which, I will argue, gives rise to a revitalized reformation of the utopian tradition.

So there! ;)

The Robert J. Sawyer Web Site


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