Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Top Ten Classic Bizarro Sci-fi novel #5 is a Green Anarchist bio-regional history of the future...

Over the summer I did a ten week countdown of my favorite horror novels of all time. I had fun doing it and it 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

7. Beyond Apollo by Barry Malzberg

6. Software by Rudy Rucker

Number 5 is :
Released: 1985

The plot:

Ok that is tough because this book is less of a story, but more a oral history of a made up anarchist bioregional culture of a far future post current civilization set in Napa Valley. The main Character ‘Stone-Telling’ does have a story but it is broken up by music, poems, fables, language lesions and the like. In many ways this is more of a fantasy novel than a Science Fiction novel, but it is both and neither. It is like no other book. Honestly I can think of nothing that matches its scope or audacity. It might be the most intense example of world-building I have ever read.

The weirdest aspect:

Where to start? This is the most fully realized culture I have ever read in a novel. Almost to a fault, because at times it seems like Leguin has lost track of the story. The story is not the point. This book is 1/3 story and 2/3 anthropology text book of this fake future.

It depends which edition you get but one edition comes with a cassette that includes Music, language lesions and such based on the Kesh culture.

What does it say about our world?

Leguin is not the only Anarchist Science Fiction writer (See Norman Spinrad # 8 on this list) but you would think she was. So much has been said about her late 60’s anarchist novel the Dispossessed, but Always Coming Home is her true Anarchist masterpiece. This book was first suggested to me by Matthew T.(One of the founders of Boxcar Books) when he told me “The Dispossessed is Anarchism 101 but Always Coming Home is a 400 class.”

You have 500 pages of statements about how society, government and people function.

Bottom line is it good?

That’s tough. It is a work of pure genius but it is not exactly a fun to read novel. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I attempted to read it twice. It took me six months reading off and on. I was glad I read it in the end. It is similar in that sense to Tolkein’s The Silmarillion, Which is as dry as over cooked toast, it’s the other middle earth book that people think they want to read, but it is a slog. This book is not for everyone. Infact it is not for many people, but if you are up to the Challenge it is a neat book. You WILL use the Glossary. Yes it has a Glossary.

Last year I read Starhawk’s Fifth Sacred Thing. I enjoyed that novel but I was constantly thinking about how it was a less imaginative attempt at the same thing UKL did in Always Coming Home. Fifth Sacred Thing convinced me I was reading about a better world, but I closed the book wondering if it could work. ACH was the most convinced I ever felt reading a work about anarchism. I mean this happened:

The Author:

Ursula K. Leguin is from here in Portland and has been writing smart and challenging Science Fiction and fantasy since the 60’s. Her most famous novels include “The left Hand of Darkness” and the Earth Sea series. Pretty much everything she does is pure genius. I picked Always Coming Home for this list because it is weird as hell but if I was just suggesting that you start reading UKL I would read Left Hand of Darkness and The Dispossessed first. Unless you are looking for weird, then start with Always Coming Home.

Honorable mention of the week: Stranger in a strange land By Robert Heinlein

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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