Imagine the conversation around the table at Random House when Mat Johnson's agent pitched Pym
"This book is Eddie Murphy does The X-Files
"No, it's Philip K. Dick with a touch of The Corrections
"Wait, I thought it was post-colonial gothic stuff - Edgar Allan Poe meets Urkel from that old TV show..."
What genre is this thing? Pym
is slow to reveal where it is going, and the mix of highbrow cultural critique and lowbrow, sitcom-worthy gags can be disorienting. The novel starts on the comic turf of the out-of-sync academic, as narrator Chris Jaynes falls from grace at the upstate New York university where he teaches. His tenure is vetoed because he won't play the part for which the administration hired him; he refuses to serve on the "toothless Diversity Committee," and he won't teach standard survey courses...
Beyond the Book
Uncharted expanses of polar ice are blank pages for science fiction writers to drool over, and many frozen landmarks spring to mind when trolling the genre.
What better place to locate creepy caves, secret lairs, and unexplained phenomena? A closer look through the early literature of science fiction reveals that polar inscrutability has stirred the imagination for many generations.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) opens with the letters of...