By Adam Roberts | October 15, 2007
Categories: Book News
A very intelligent and perceptive (though of course I would say that wouldn't I) review of both Headless and Splinter at the splendid Strange Horizons.† It's by Victoria Hoyle, she of the top-notch Eve's Alexandria, the site which no individual interested in new fiction can afford to ignore.
†I'm a little inhibited from responding to the review, actually, since it is so very positive about both books (although of the two Hoyle prefers Splinter).† Also I'm the author,†which is to say†dead, so my judgment probably isn't the best one.† But I thought there were some very penetrating observations in this review, and a genuine understanding of what I'm about as a writer (for good and ill), and Hoyle captures things that go to the heart of these two books.† "Like Gradisil before it, The Land of the Headless is a novel about self-delusion and curtailment, both physical and ideological," she says, and she's not wrong.
What makes Splinter different is that Roberts writes much warmer, more rhythmic prose; not less mindful, since his writing is always heavily controlled, but more fertile. Lush, even. Whereas the style of Headless communicates crippling repression and the terrible absence of sensation in its spareness, so Splinter conveys the fecund landscape and frustrated eroticism of the end of the world through its sensual immediacy.
At the end she compares me to Ursula le Guin, which, enormously flattering though it is, is a little discombobulating, since she's a writer so evidently in a different class to me (and, to be fair to me, in a different class†to almost everybody writing today).