By Adam Roberts | December 1, 2008
I've been busy, and hence elusive, here, but I have been neither idle nor unproductive. I've done a lot of University work, a certain amount of reviewing, and some academic writing for different projects. More to the point I have been plugging away at a Fantasy novel, or more precisely at a short novel in the Fantasy idiom. The working title is Red, but I like that not, and I'm not sure what the final title will be.
My starting point for this piece of writing is the observation that a great many Fantasy novels (and there are a great many Fantasy novels) undertake scrupulously medievalised worldbuilding in every respect except the characters, who are rendered thoroughly twenty-first century in sensibility, attitude, taste and expression. This, I suppose, is to
facilitae facilitate the twenty-first century reader's imaginative point of entry into the novel; but it is a lie, corrosive of the broader aesthetic project of imagining Fantasy in the first place. Fantasy ought to be more than a mildly escapist exercise in dressing up in colourful costumes. So I wonder: what would it be like to read a Fantasy novel not only set in a medievalised world, but detailing the adventures of medievalised characters (pre-Romantic, non-bourgeois characters; characters for whom shame, not guilt, is the prime ethical shaper)? Maybe it's not possible to do that in a bourgeois form like, er, the novel. So jetison the novel: write a narrative in alliterative verse. Of course it is an almost endearingly foolish business (as my editor Simon gently pointed out) pitching a novel on the tagline: 'an attempt to inhabit not only the medieval trappings but also the medieval sensibility and form appropriate to High Fantasy!' So having written the first third in verse, I've switched to 21st-century characters--visitors to the Fantasy realm--and a properly postmodern prose idiom for the remaining two thirds. Nevertheless, and despite the fact that I'm enjoying writing it very much, I have no illusions about its comercial viability and do not, frankly, expect to see it in print any time soon. The plan is to finish writing it this month and to turn, after Christmas, to more likely-sounding fictional projects.
In other news: I was interviewed by Mariella Frostrup for BBC Radio 4's Open Book (the Reading Clinic section). Strangely the webpage for the show in question, 23rd Nov 2008, seems not to exist. There may be nefarious explanations for this, or perhaps benign ones (the ones for other weeks are all there). Also I seem (whoops) to have delayed posting this information for more than a week, so that the Open Book 'Listen Again' facility now takes you to last Sunday's, rather than the Sunday-before-last's, show. That means you won't be able to hear my ramblings. Ah well.
In other other news, you should check out Rich Puchalsky's blog. One reason for doing so is that he reviews Splinter there in some depth; but this is a small reason and there are big reasons too: go see for yourselves.No tags for this post.