Adam Robots by Adam Roberts

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For Adam Roberts, the finest sf takes its readers on a conceptual flight away from mundane and literal-minded ways of regarding reality and into spectacularly metaphorical representations of it. There are traces here of the Romantic concept of the sublime, and it is therefore apt that Roberts teaches nineteenth-century literature when he isn’t writing sf. Another of his passions is comedy, which he argues operates in much the same way as transcendental sf; the efficacy of a punchline can often be measured by how strange or surprising a departure it is from its setup. Roberts’s new book, Adam Robots, is clear proof that he practises as a storyteller what he preaches as a critic. Manifest in these two dozen short stories are various “conceptual breakthroughs” (260) that elucidate a number of timely matters, from the theological to the political, the ontological to the technological. But while Roberts consistently takes us to new places and show us things we haven’t seen before, his referential, sometimes intertextual style never loses sight of the time-honoured conventions of the genre that excites him so much. Although in the introduction he admits to wanting to write “at least one thing in all the myriad sub-genres and sub-sub-genres of SF” (1), this doesn’t equate to some superficial box-ticking exercise in homage or fan fiction. It is much more about satirising, subverting and reinventing what has come before.

Book details - Adam Roberts by Adam Roberts, Gollancz, 2013, ISBN: 9780575130340 (pbk), 391pp.
Original languageEnglish
Article number19
Pages (from-to)129-131
Number of pages3
JournalFoundation: The International Review of Science Fiction
Issue number116
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2014


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