Sorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho - Pan Books, 2016 / Spiderlight – Adrian Tchaikovsky - Tor.com, 2016
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I appreciate the arts but have little time for most contemporary manifestations of them. The main reason for this (apart, of course, from the time wasted due to Sturgeon's law) is that art, music and dance appear to have stopped evolving, instead diversifying into myriad forms of individual self-expression. Art is no longer a conversation between the artist, their predecessors and contemporaries, but a monologue - "look how clever, original and talented I am!". As most artists are not particularly profound thinkers, what new insights they have tend to relate to the minutiae of the social milieu in which they live, and for me their effusions generally lack analytical interest and deep emotional meaning.
Fortunately, the same is not true of genre fiction. One can tell this by the fact that identifiable styles and trends exist, for example steampunk, grimdark and Scandinavian noir, which can be analysed and, more importantly, moved on from. As a result, modern genre fiction, even when it is not startlingly original - and the two books to be discussed here have deeply familiar settings and character types - can still be interesting and worthwhile in a way that the artworks considered for the Turner Prize, for example, are not.
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