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The Bellinghman

#12 M John Harrison: Things that never happen

M John Harrison: Things that never happen

Paperback: 436 pages
Publisher: Orion Pub Co (October 31, 2004)
ISBN: 0575075937
Category(ies): Science Fiction/Fantasy/General

This is a collection of stories by Harrison. Some are set in the poorer parts of London area, some 'up north', some on other worlds. The original publication dates range over the last quarter of the 20th Century, so the earlier ones come from the depths of the New Wave, of which Harrison was a prime mover.

Personally, I find little of value came from the New Wave. As a literary movement, it was very much a reaction to what went before and, though it was attempting to reject the worst failings of classic SF, it also seemed to throw out everything of value too. Story, for example. As a result, it often ends up being as stark and soulless as conceptualist art. But, as part of the continuing process of thesis-antithesis-synthesis, it has in its turn been discarded. Perhaps today's rebirth of British SF is a reaction to it, or perhaps it's something that was suppressed by it.

As far as the stories themselves are concerned, there is a static feel to most of them. There's no sense of progress. This is not necessarily a shortcoming with the short story form, because they can be mood pieces, but for me, too many of these expressed the same mood, and though on an individual basis they may have been memorable, as a mass they just merge into a depressing greyness. In the end, too much the same.
Tags: books, reviews

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