May 29th, 2007

First, do HARM

One of the great writers of our time, Brian Aldiss, O.B.E. and SFWA Grandmaster, is back with a very strong new novel, Harm, that looks at our post-9/11 world through a visionary sfnal lense:  it is vintage Aldiss in terms of its shifting perspectives, dazzling word play, and dark but humanistic focus. 

My interview with Aldiss appears as an appendix to the novel, but I thought I would post it here, both for its intrinsic interest, and as a spur to get people to buy the book and even be the first to review it on!

PW: Science fiction has a tradition of dystopian novels that comment on current political events, Orwell's 1984 and Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 being two of the most famous. Do you see Harm as being in that tradition?

 BA: It never occurred to me. Harm is the sort of book I have been writing over the last half-century. Non-Stop, Greybeard, Forgotten Life, Super-State . . . all protest against something, generally against the shortcomings of human life itself. Of course I have read More, Brave New World, and all the rest of the famous utopias.

PW: Why choose science fiction as the genre in which to critique the way that governments have responded to 9/11? Doesn't that risk diluting your message in ways that a realistic novel would not? For example, couldn't critics dismiss your arguments by saying that Harm is a fantasy, its main character a man with a personality disorder?  

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  • pgdf

Sixties Novels, Parts 11-20 Index

Part 11: TWILIGHT CANDELABRA, William Craddock:

Part 12: TRAVEL NOTES, Stanley Crawford:

Part 13: IK JAN CREMER, Jan Cremer:


Part 15: THE SECRET, James Drought:


Part 17: HERMAPHRODEITY, Alan Friedman:

Part 18: TWO TRAVEL THROUGH, Glen Gainsbrugh and Peter Whitehead:

Part 19: THE BEASTS, Leslie Garrett:

Part 20: TAKEOVER, Lawrence Louis Goldman:

Movies, Playboy update, and etc.

Gianni Amelio made what is as far as I'm concerned one of the truly great films of the Nineties, L'america, the story of two Italian conmen who travel to Albania to run a con on the hardppessed and generally miserable Albanians. They recruit as a tool a senile Albanian whom they use to sign documents--at one point he wanders off and the younger of the two conmen goes on a journey across the desolate moonscape of Albania in search of him. This is perhaps the most beautifully photographed neo-realist film ever--the cinematography is so gorgeous it distracts somewhat from the grungy materials of the story, but this is still a great, great movie.

Now another Amelio film is available on Region 0 Pal DVD. It's Il Ladro di Bambini (The Stolen Children. Carabiniere Antonio Criaco (Enrico Lo Verso) is assigned to convey an abused brother and sister to a foster home. Years of abuse prevent the siblings from trusting, obeying, or even liking Antonio. Rosetta, a child prostitute, is hostile and demanding; Luciano is sullen and remote. When the Catholic foster home will not accept the children on the grounds of Rosetta's past, Antonio independently decides to bring them south to a home in Sicily. The three begin on a road trip during which their relationship grows and Antonio — the epitome of hope and grace — attempts to give the children a normal, loving experience by temporarily stealing them from their uncertain future. Another great film. Check it out if you will.


I talked to my editor at Playboy and managed to persuade him to let me re-slant the article. It means more work, more interviews, but at least I'm still in the game.


go to youtube and have a look at this: