Sunday, 23 August 2015

Two Kinds Of Critique

I should clarify that, when I critique a work of time travel fiction, I may be making one of two diametrically opposite points about it:

that the work is incoherent and should not have been published;

that the work is aesthetically and intellectually absorbing and that part of the pleasure is precisely to engage with its conceptual content.

The latter is certainly true of HG Wells' The Time Machine. The introductory section in which the dinner guests merely discuss the concept of "time traveling" is like a good Platonic dialogue. The Time Traveler contradicts himself several times but we learn a great deal by continuing the discussion.

I hope that it is clear that Poul Anderson's Time Patrol series, including the addition by SM Stirling, is also in the second category. This is Wellsian science fiction. However, needing a break from prose fiction and abstract thought, I will now instead reread Black Orchid by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean.

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