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Sunday, September 28, 2008

bleak future fiction

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Human wipe-out dystopia novels... read this year... set in near-future Americas -

Oryx and Crake, by Margaret Atwood - the lushest of the bleak futures
The Road, by Cormac McCarthy - Easy Reader says This Book is Easy to Read
The Genocides, by Thomas Disch - maybe the best but the BLEAKEST...
The Pesthouse, by Jim Crace - i read his books Quarantine and Being Dead and got bored, but this held my interest.

All of these are very good and recommended, but the sudden endings of The Road and Oryx and Crake blow. The Genocides is hard core to the bitter end.

Thomas Disch is a new favorite novelist. I found out about him after he killed himself earlier this year and Eric Gelber and Tom Moody blogged about him. The M.D. was so good. I found some of his stuff in Hoosick at Dog Ear(ed?) Books... next I'm reading The Puppies of Terra.

Goodreads!

11 comments:

ericgelber said...

sob...sob...I...I...I...didn't get a hyperlink...

My second favorite book by Disch is "334". If you want to read about a dystopian future New York City, it is the best book going.

My other favorite Disch books are "On Wings of Song", which everyone loves, and the not so well known SF book "Echo Round His Bones". In terms of short stories collections I highly recommend "Under COmpulsion" or "Fun With Your New Head" which includes my personal favorite, "Descending", which is about a homeless man who stumbles upon a huge bag of high priced food stuffs and gets stuck on an escalator system that becomes a dark metaphor for the American class system. When he begins to panic the story really picks up.

ericgelber said...

Me stupid. I forgot that I removed that entry on Disch's death. It wasn't very good anyway. But Disch sure was. Thanks for the mention Martin.

Martin said...

thanks eric i will look for 334. yeah i wanted to link to your disch post but it was gone.

did you read The MD? that was the first one i read, followed by the genocides. i'm 100% sold on disch.

ericgelber said...

I haven't read any of Disch's gothic stuff. I have read ALL of his SF stuff, novels, short stories, and criticism. I also read and really enjoyed his salvo, "The Castle of Indolence", in which he smartly and humorously attacks poets and poetry that he hates.

Anonymous said...

The MD is modern gothic--that is, it looks at present day society through a "scary story" lens rather than an sf lens. But there is plenty of science in it as well, such as the subplot about the virtual world "Wyomia." Beginning in childhood the evil protagonist spends his spare time building a personal world of torture and murder that grows increasingly baroque as he ages.
--Tom Moody

ericgelber said...

Tom if we go by Disch's classification system "The Priest" is the only book he wrote that he considered a "Gothic Romance". He called "The M.D." a Horror story. Assuming you have read a lot of his non-SF stuff, which Disch books would you recommend and why?

Anonymous said...

My understanding is the Priest, The Businessman, and The MD are sort of a trilogy and are all set in Minneapolis.
The MD is the only one I've read.
Years ago I read and enjoyed his off-the-wall adaptation of The Prisoner TV show.
After my blog post a publicist (!) sent me a copy of the new short story book The Wall of America, which is about half non-SF. I am enjoying it, although Disch is sometimes too enamored of his own cleverness. The first story, The White Man, about a Somali child living in Minnesota who discovers a vampire conspiracy in her world of schools, strip malls, churches, and relief agencies, takes some unexpected twists and is fairly disturbing.

--Tom Moody

Anonymous said...

Slight revision to the description of Wyomia above: "Beginning in childhood the evil protagonist spends his spare time building a personal Second Life, or Sim City, of torture and murder that grows increasingly baroque as he ages."
--TM

ericgelber said...

The publicist sent me a lump of coal after they read my blog entry. Oh wait, no one but Martin read my blog entry. Your comment about the trilogy sounds right to me. Thanks for the descriptions of the books I haven't read. I also recommend "Stuff Our Dreams Are Made Of" his first book of SF criticism. It led me to a lot of great books and authors I had never heard about before and his thoughts on Star Trek are hilarious.

john m said...

I'd read Oryx & Crake already when I found this post. From the mention here, I picked up The Road, The Genocides, and Pesthouse. The Road good and fucked me up for a few days; thanks for reminding me how good McCarthy can be (my 10-year-old cat is named after Lester Ballard & he is a right bastard). The Pesthouse was conceptually interesting & a good read, but lacked a certain kick following The Road. The Genocides is up next.

Again, thanks!

Martin said...

the genocides was so good.