I've had my nose buried in a book. And not just any book, but the late Roberto Bolano's epic masterpiece, 2666. I wish I had blogged about my reading experience, as 2666 was one of those books that, because of its length, takes a significant amount of time to complete. It took me six weeks to make it through the five separate "books" that make up the whole of 2666 and it would have been useful to note the various connections I noticed as I read and also to comment on how I thought the various pieces the larger work were going to connect. Ah, well, a missed opportunity. Of course I recommend 2666 without reservations, but be warned, this is a demanding book. If you've read (and liked) other works by Bolano (especially The Savage Detectives) then make sure you carve out some time for 2666. (By the way, there is a major Twin Peaks reference in the book--deliberate and direct--that comes at the half-way point in the story. For days I thought Twin Peaks might have been a significant influence on 2666 and while I do think Bolano was attempting (in the third book) to emulate a Lynchian mood through his writing, I think the nod to Twin Peaks was just Bolano's way of acknowledging the genius of Lynch.)
Before reading 2666, I read Kim Stanley Robinson's Galileo's Dream. This is Robinson's best book since his "Mars trilogy" of the 1990's and the best science fiction book I've read this year (so far). Robinson seems to be channeling Gene Wolfe in the telling of his story as he reveals a surprise narrator well into tale. This narrator also undermines a basic assumption I (as a reader) had made about the mechanics of Robinson's well-developed time-travel tale. If it sounds like I'm being coy, I'm really trying to avoid spoiling the details. Galileo's Dream was great "hard" science fiction, an eye-opening historical account, and a poetic blending of science and spirituality. Galileo's Dream shows why Kim Stanley Robinson is one of SF's most important voices.
I am rapidly growing weary of Flashforward which has put the soap-opera aspect of its story well ahead of its mystery. I don't care about the melodrama! The most exciting thing about last week's episode was ABC's teaser for the new season of LOST. (You know what would be great? If the characters who have seen the future realize said future is immutable and so, because they have a guaranteed six months to live, lead fearless lives. Imagine jumping off a building and knowing--somehow--you'll survive? Or that you can walk through traffic and not be harmed? At the very least I'd like to see the characters get bolder with their actions, see them willing to take more chances as their certainty about an unchangeable future grows. This week's episode supposedly deals with suicides and we can only hope the writers will touch upon these ideas. But I'm not holding my breath.)
Fox will burn off the remaining episodes of Dollhouse in December and January. Say good-bye to the most challenging SF show on TV. (Whedon promises closure. So there's that.)
Cartoon Network's Clone Wars is fun to watch and more exciting than the three Star Wars prequel films (I'm not the first to say that). But the problem is, we can't forget the prequel films! We know that Anakin is doomed, that he will betray the Jedi, and that all his battles in this series are for naught. And why does the show insist on making the clone troopers unique individuals with sympathetic personalities? We know they, too, will be re-programmed and lose their individuality. I love the show but I always have a sour taste in my mouth after each episode. Does George Lucas even care that viewers might contemplate the larger narrative of Clone Wars? Probably not.
It's pretty rare to have Twin Peaks news these days. But, as the twentieth anniversary of the show approaches, we may be seeing more. Anyway, the big news right now is the upcoming book of photos by Paula K. Shimatsu-U. According to the press release (which you can read here), the book, Northwest Passages: "contains a treasure trove of rare and unpublished photos from Paula's personal archive. It's all here, from deleted scenes, intimate portraits, photos that ended up as key props within the show to official publicity shots and cast and crew having fun on the set." I looked up Shimatsu-U on IMDB and see that she was credited as "unit publicist" on Twin Peaks as well as assistant to Mark Frost. My hopes are up for this book!
Ok, that's all I have for now. More notes and possibly a few notions to come.
5 days ago