In 1973, Umberto Eco described ten ways that literature set in the Middle Ages could be used to negotiate contemporary needs, and many of those modalities apply just as well to science fiction’s thematic projects.
Archaeologists and historians are taught that context is all yet here we have a catalogue of objects deprived of context even as Garner swoops in to save them. I found it hard not to see him as some sort of historical bric-a-brac collector.
This sideways lens governs the novel, producing a story that insists on effective communication and precise narrative logic; and that disrupts some of the more expected tropes of SF adventure narratives.
Because this collection aspires to provide a view of where fantasy is going, it's hard to discuss without bringing up definitional questions about what qualifies as fantasy. I know few horses have been beaten so much, nor so long after their death, but this collection does provoke a few thoughts that hopefully are of interest.
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