By Adam Roberts | January 13, 2012
A little belatedly (must attend to this 'bsite more frequently): a brief round-up of things that have been written about By Light Alone. To begin with a couple of actual readers, since they're the most important people. First Lizzie Barrett, on facebook:
I have just finished By Light Alone by Adam Roberts. If you like political literary novels, if you like emotionally compelling stories, if you like science fiction, you will like this. Hell, if you like your words strung together in beautiful and profound sentences so that you reread them for the sheer joy of language, you will like this.
Then, for balance, an anonymous reader, reported by Michelle Howe:
I recommended BLA to a collegue who likes hard sf and political intrigue, so of course I thought he'd love it. He didn't, and now is telling everyone not to trust my recs or reviews.
Marmite-acious. Over on the Strange Horizons blog Niall Harrison, that tall man, has written a characteristically insightful and intelligent account of the novel, putting it in the wider context of
plays novels what I write:
Adam Roberts novels, it seems to me today, often worry at questions of sincerity and insincerity -- or authenticity and inauthenticity... For someone often pegged as a quite cynical, sardonic commentator, Roberts' fiction concerns itself quite often with what you might call verities of "the human condition", as conventionally understood -- there are essays to be written about love in Adam Roberts novels, and war in Adam Roberts novels -- albeit rarely in conventional forms, indeed usually deliberately contrary or challenging: the emotional arcs in Swiftly most infamously, perhaps. And more significantly, science fiction as published today is a fundamentally sincere genre: earnest, even, both politically and stylistically. Because Adam Roberts novels are only ever sincere in backhanded ways, and frequently insincere in obvious ways, it's easy to see them as critiquing science fiction; and they usually are; but per Puchalsky they're usually doing more than that as well, I think.
Niall links to pieces by Rich Puchalsky and Paul Kincaid that I've mentioned before on this site, but he also links to an interesting essay by Lavie Tidhar about me qua problem, 'Shall I Tell You The Problem With Adam Roberts?'. The whole thing is thought-provoking, but Lavie's thesis is summed-up in his conclusion: 'He is both the Fool and Knave of science fiction.'
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