Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Top Ten classic Bizarro Sci-fi novels #7 is the most unreliable narrator ever...

Over the summer I did a ten week countdown of my favorite horror novels of all time. I had fun doing it and seems based on the numbers that a lot of people were reading them. I enjoyed the discussions and so I decided to do another top down. So here are some rules, one book by each author because in this list it runs the risk of becoming the Philip K.Dick list. The second rule is nothing published in the 21st century. There are great gonzo sci-fi novels released in the last thirteen years for sure, The Skinner by Neal Asher and Dr. Identity by D.Harlan Wilson are great examples. They are great but we are talking old school now. The more weird the better, they can be serious or totally funny, the most important thing is that they are bizarro and awesome.

10.Shockwave Rider by John Brunner

9. Transmaniacon by John Shirley

8.Void Captain’s tale by Norman Spinrad

Number #7 is:
Release: 1972

The plot: Harry Evans might be the most unreliable narrator in science fiction. The only survivor of the first manned mission to Venus. He tries to tell his story but as you read this novel you begin suspect his paranoid delusions have made his story impossible to make sense of. The story goes from scary to to absurd and back again. By the end it seems clear that Evans murdered his crew or did he?

The Weirdest Aspect: The unreliable narrator is turned up to 11 in this novel and it times the story is so off the wall it is hard to keep straight what is happening. It would be easy to think of this short novel as a confused mess but if you stick with the novel it all comes to together. In many ways it is similar to the crazed crew member story-line in the recent Danny Boyle sci-fi movie Sunshine. The sex and violence is pretty intense for a novel of the era.

What does it say about our world? OK, I could be totally wrong but I got the impression that Malzberg was trying to make a statement about the insanity and dangers of human beings going into space.

Bottom line is it good? This novel greatly divided the Sci-fi community despite winning the John W. Campbell award for best Science Fiction novel many critics thought Campbell would have hated the novel. Harlan Ellison famously defended the novel saying it “put him out of commission for three days.

Me? I admit I almost quit reading this one. The first half is crazy disjointed. Once you figure out that is on purpose and kinda ride with it it gets better. If you stick with it you'll be glad you did because it pays off in the end.

The author: This is the only author on the list who I have not read other works. In 2006 Cari and I were in Victoria B.C. On my way to see The Fountain in the theater when we found Dark horse books. This was bookstore that had political books and science fiction. Not only did I love the bookstore but I made friend's with the owner Robert who suggested this book to me when I told him the type of things I was into. I had never heard of Malzberg.

After that I begun to notice his books and stories all over the place. Hear is what I know he was a violinist and accomplished editor. He was a lit agent and ran the SFWA for a time.

Honorable mention of the week:

Dhalgren By Samuel Delany.

David Agranoff is the author of two published novels the Wuxia Pan style horror fantasy crossover "Hunting The Moon Tribe," and the satire "The Vegan Revolution With Zombies. He is also the author of the Wonderland award short story collection "Screams From a Dying World." His next novel Boot Boys of the Wolf-Reich is due to be released soon by Deadite press.

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