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ФантастикаAcross the Wounded Galaxies: Interviews with Contemporary American Science Fiction Writers

Across the Wounded Galaxies: Interviews with Contemporary American Science Fiction Writers
Across the Wounded Galaxies: Interviews with Contemporary American Science Fiction Writers
By Larry McCaffery

Publisher: University of Illinois Press 1990 267 Pages
ISBN: 0252016920

This book contains interviews by Larry McCaffrey. Some interviews are in collaboration with Sinday Gregory, Brooks Landon or Jim McMenamin.

The interviews are, in general, remarkably detailed, providing any fan of any of the author's with fascinating insight into the work and minds of said author. That brings me to my first caveat: since all of the interviews partially revolve around the works of the authors up until 1991 when the book was published, the reader needs to be familiar with the major works of each author to understand the whole interview. (This is as it should be, of course, I am simply making the implicit an explicit.)

I doubt many readers are familiar with every author presented here since they are culled from a wide range of the speculative fiction spectrum. While it may not make the book appear worthwhile for the reader who is only familiar with one or two writers, it is worthwhile precisely because of that. I imagine that most readers will read an interview by a writer previously unknown to him or her and find the interest to explore those works. Likewise, no doubt some readers will read an interview and decide that the writer isn't worth the paper he or she is printed on.

(In case you're wondering, here is the complete list of interviewees: Gregory Benford, William Burroughs, Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, Thomas Disch, William Gibson, Ursula Le Guin, Joanna Russ, Bruce Sterling, Gene Wolfe.)

The greater problem is the date of the book. Certainly many of the writers have expanded their craft since 1991, but the bigger issue is that the date marks (more or less) the end of the cyberpunk explosion. Since most of the interviews were conducted in the late '80s, around the peak of cyberpunk, some of the interviews focus on this phenomenon when not involved in the author's particular works. To understand the arguments and critcisms presented, it is necesary for the reader to have a significant grasp of the stagnation of early '80s SF; the significance and genesis of the cyberpunk explosion; what cyberpunk is and is not (specifically: the reader must know that cyberpunk is not the media image of computer cowboys with wetware, mirrorshades, leather, a bad attitude and a teen-angst stance); and the reader needs to understand the humanist vs. cyberpunk debate. (The distinction has largely been obliterated in the last decade.) If the reader does not have this basic framework, much of the criticisms leveled are esoteric -- or worse, they are totally incomprehensible.

Of particular interest are: Samuel Delany's interview, in which his normally difficult and dense thoughts are deconstructed in easier to understand language. Gene Wolfe's interview, in which he explains some of the textual games played in THE FIFTH HEAD OF CERBERUS and THE BOOK OF THE NEW SUN. Gregory Benford's interview, int which he levels significant attacks against the cyberpunk movement; attacks which are heard too infrequntly these days, when 'everyone' knows that glitzy computer stuff is what SF is all about.

In short, if you want to understand some of the best and most eccentric minds working in SF in 1991, read this book.

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