The Geomancer


Sagramanda: A Chef d’oeuvre for Sure

Norman Spinrad's latest On Books column, this one titled "Buried Treasures," is par for the course for his usual cogent discussion of the state of modern publishing. He looks at five books, one from a major house, three from the "small press", and the fifth one from Pyr, whom he describes as a publisher that "seems to straddle, or perhaps in the end will erase, the distinction between such lists and the so-called major SF lines."

Spinrad's column begins with the assertion that "Whether you call it evolution or devolution, SF publishing has changed rather radically from what it was, say, a decade ago. Most of the changes have been negative in terms of accessibility to potential readers and income to writers. However, perhaps there will turn out to be a small improvement or two in terms of literary freedom as the center of gravity, to coin an entirely paradoxical metaphor, moves to the fringes."

He then uses the five books in his review - The Good Fairies of New York, The Demon and the City, No Dominion, The Secret City, and our own Alan Dean Foster title, Sagramanda (A Novel of Near-Future India),as a penetrating look at the way books are bought (or not bought), packaged, and marketed. He also has some harsh words for media novelizations and warnings for writers of same, including an admission that Foster's own work in media tie-ins prejudiced him against Sagramanda going in. I'm still digesting his column (though Louise Marley's already up with some thoughts on it), and I'm not sure it's my place to say anything here anyway. Though I would agree with Louise's assessment that "If you love the genre, this article is worth ten minutes of your time."

Meanwhile, Alan and I are certainly happy with this view of Sagramanda: " far the best thing heʼs written thus far, a chef dʼoeuvre for sure, and whatʼs more, colorful, exotic, and reasonably action-packed, too.... a very detailed, sensorily vivid, culturally and technologically convincing, portrait of his extrapolated India via characters who come alive with psychological depth. What more can you ask of a science fiction novel?"

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