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The Postmodern Archipelago: Two Essays on Science Fiction and Fantasy

Michael Swanwick

The publication of Michael Swanwick's "A User's Guide to the Post Moderns" sent angry shockwaves rippling through the science fiction community. Not since the controversy surrounding the advent of the so-called New Wave writers of the 1960s and early 1970s had anyone dared to categorize writers. A work that was originally intended as an homage, to illuminate the works of many of the younger writers in the field, was vilified in numerous fanzine articles and convention panels. But Swanwick's essay was not intended to generate controversy and it remains, beyond the initial conflagration, a thoughtful and insightful look into the science fiction field of the early to mid-1980s. Herein lies the genesis of writers like William Gibson and Kim Stanley Robinson, Bruce Sterling and James Patrick Kelly. "A User's Guide to the Post Moderns," is published here for the first time since its initial magazine appearance along with "In the Tradition...", Swanwick's elegant assay on the fantasy genre, and a brand new introduction written specially for this collection. BACK COVER: Reviews of "A User's Guide to the Post Moderns": Juicy and intelligent, these critical overviews provide a valuable snapshot of our field... - Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine

Some of the writers that he praises may actually believe that they are as important to the field of science fiction as Swanwick says they are. The more they believe that, the more it will hurt when a more accurate perspective is forced upon them. - Orson Scott Card

A bilious assemblage of self-congratulatory twaddle... jejune mixture of bluster and untried arrogance... My God, if this is the direction science fiction is going, it is doomed... A self-conscious piece of snobbery not worth the powder to blow it to Kingdom Come. Like reading a history of Europe written from the point of view of Bulgaria. Swanwick's article has proved nothing, clarified nothing, accomplished nothing except to get his name before a large number of people where he can spout his conspiracy-literary theories in a pseudo-journalistic 'I'm above all this' manner better served by UFO magazines and the Flat Earth Society newsletter.Praise for "In the Tradition... "A brave, lonely attempt to stem the tide. - Nova Express

An incisive essay... - Publisher's Weekly

Thought-provoking and informative, the essay is as beautifully penned as any of the works lauded therein. - Terri Windling

Table of Contents:

  • A Tale of Two Essays - essay by Michael Swanwick
  • A User's Guide to the Postmoderns - (1986) - essay by Michael Swanwick
  • "In the Tradition..." - (1994) - essay by Michael Swanwick

The Wolfe Archipelago

Gene Wolfe

Table of Contents:

The Death of Dr. Island

Archipelago

Gene Wolfe

Locus and Nebula Award winning and Hugo Award nominated novella. It originally appeared in the anthology Universe 3 (1973), edited by Terrry Carr. The story can also be found in the anthologies:

It is half of Tor Double #25: Fugue State/The Death of Doctor Island (1990, with John M. Ford) and is included in the collections The Island of Doctor Death and Other Stories and Other Stories (1980), The Wolfe Archipelago (1983) and The Best of Gene Wolfe.

An Infinite Summer

Dream Archipelago

Christopher Priest

This novelette originally appeared in the anthology Andromeda I (1976), edited by Peter Weston. It can also be found in the anthologies The Best Science Fiction of the Year #6 (1977), edited by Terry Carr, Trips in Time (1977), edited by Robert Silverberg, Light Years and Dark: Science Fiction and Fantasy Of and For Our Time (1984), edited by Michael Bishop, and The Road to Science Fiction 5: The British Way (1998), edited by James Gunn. The story is included in the collection An Infinite Summer (1979).

The Watched

Dream Archipelago

Christopher Priest

Hugo Award nominated novella. It originally appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, April 1978. The story can also be found in the anthology The Best Science Fiction Novellas of the Year #1 (1979), edited by Terry Carr. It is included in the collections An Infinite Summer (1979) and The Dream Archipelago (1999).

The Affirmation

Dream Archipelago: Book 1

Christopher Priest

Peter Sinclair is tormented by bereavement and failure. In an attempt to conjure some meaning from his life, he embarks on an autobiography, but he finds himself writing the story of another man in another, imagined, world whose insidious attraction draws him even further in...

The Islanders

Dream Archipelago: Book 2

Christopher Priest

Reality is illusory and magical in the stunning new literary SF novel from the multiple award-winning author of The Prestige-for fans of Haruki Murakami and David Mitchell.

A tale of murder, artistic rivalry, and literary trickery; a Chinese puzzle of a novel where nothing is quite what it seems; a narrator whose agenda is artful and subtle; a narrative that pulls you in and plays an elegant game with you. The Dream Archipelago is a vast network of islands. The names of the islands are different depending on who you talk to, their very locations seem to twist and shift. Some islands have been sculpted into vast musical instruments, others are home to lethal creatures, others the playground for high society. Hot winds blow across the archipelago and a war fought between two distant continents is played out across its waters. The Islanders serves both as an untrustworthy but enticing guide to the islands; an intriguing, multi-layered tale of a murder; and the suspect legacy of its appealing but definitely untrustworthy narrator. It shows Christopher Priest at the height of his powers and illustrates his undiminished power to dazzle.

The Adjacent

Dream Archipelago: Book 3

Christopher Priest

A photographer returns to a near-future Britain after the death of his wife in a terrorist incident in Afghanistan. And finds that Britain has, itself, been suffering terrorist attacks. But no-one knows quite what is happening or how. Just that there are similarities between what killed the photographer's wife and what happened in West London. Soon he is drawn into a hall of mirrors at the heart of government.

In the First World War a magician is asked to travel to the frontline to help a naval aerial reconnaissance unit hide its planes from the German guns. On the way to France he meets a certain H.G. Wells. In the Second World War on the airfields of Bomber Commands there is also an obsession with camouflage, with misdirection. With deceit.

And in a garden, an old man raises a conch shell to his ear and initiates the first Adjacency.

The Gradual

Dream Archipelago: Book 4

Christopher Priest

In the latest novel from one of the UK's greatest writers we return to the Dream Archipelago, a string of islands that no one can map or explain.

Alesandro Sussken is a composer, and we see his life as he grows up in a fascist state constantly at war with another equally faceless opponent. His brother is sent off to fight; his family is destroyed by grief. Occasionally Alesandro catches glimpses of islands in the far distance from the shore, and they feed into his music - music for which he is feted.

But all knowledge of the other islands is forbidden by the junta, until he is unexpectedly sent on a cultural tour. And what he discovers on his journey will change his perceptions of his country, his music and the ways of the islands themselves.

Playing with the lot of the creative mind, the rigours of living under war and the nature of time itself, this is Christopher Priest at his absolute best.