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Kick over the Scenery

Stephanie Burt: Philip K. Dick, 3 July 2008

Four Novels of the 1960s: ‘The Man in the High Castle’, ‘The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch’, ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?’, ‘Ubik’ 
by Philip K. Dick</a>.
Library of America, 830 pp., $35, May 2008, 978 1 59853 009 4
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Five Novels of the 1960s and 1970s: ‘Martian Time-Slip’, ‘Dr Bloodmoney’, ‘Now Wait for Last Year’, ‘Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said’, ‘A Scanner Darkly’ 
by Philip K. Dick</a>.
Library of America, 1128 pp., $40, August 2008, 978 1 59853 025 4
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... When an art form or genre once dismissed as kids’ stuff starts to get taken seriously by gatekeepers – by journals, for example, such as the one you are reading now – respect doesn’t come smoothly, or all at once. Often one artist gets lifted above the rest, his principal works exalted for qualities that other works of the same kind seem not to possess ...

Hitler’s Common Market

Philip Purser, 6 August 1992

Fatherland 
by Robert Harris.
Hutchinson, 372 pp., £14.99, May 1992, 0 09 174827 5
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... art to art, or fiction to fiction. In two respects, unfortunately, Fatherland by Robert Harris makes artistic comparisons inescapable. It belongs, first, to that select genre of fiction which deals in the Alternative Present, or in this case an alternative recent past. It is set in 1964 in the vast, imperial, intimidating Berlin of an undefeated Third ...

Out of the Gothic

Tom Shippey, 5 February 1987

Trillion Year Spree: The History of Science Fiction 
by Brian Aldiss and David Wingrove.
Gollancz, 511 pp., £15, October 1986, 0 575 03942 6
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Eon 
by Greg Bear.
Gollancz, 504 pp., £10.95, October 1986, 0 575 03861 6
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The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Four Parts 
by Douglas Adams.
Heinemann, 590 pp., £9.95, September 1986, 0 434 00920 2
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Humpty Dumpty in Oakland 
by Philip K. Dick</a>.
Gollancz, 199 pp., £9.95, October 1986, 0 575 03875 6
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The Watcher 
by Jane Palmer.
Women’s Press, 177 pp., £2.50, September 1986, 0 7043 4038 0
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I, Vampire 
by Jody Scott.
Women’s Press, 206 pp., £2.50, September 1986, 0 7043 4036 4
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... One of a five-hundred-page volume. This is admirably bold of him – more timorous scholars tuck their definitions away inconspicuously, or else develop complex excuses for not giving any – as well as being admirably genial. After all, says Aldiss, the definition may be wrong, but it doesn’t matter: ‘we can modify it as we go along.’ The definition ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Blade Runner 2049’, 2 November 2017

Blade Runner 2049 
directed by Denis Villeneuve.
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... was released, and we are now very close to 2019, its once futuristic setting. In this framework the sequel seems a bit overdue, and the time of the sequel’s action, 2049, not all that far away. The new movie, directed by Denis Villeneuve, goes out of its way to bypass the first impression and to insist on the second. The weather is still ...

White Boy Walking

Evan Hughes: Jonathan Lethem, 5 July 2007

You Don’t Love Me Yet 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Faber, 224 pp., £10.99, May 2007, 978 0 571 23562 9
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... was piercing ears with a pin and ice-cube in Greenwich Village, where she ran with a crowd of folksingers including Tuli Kupferberg, Dave Van Ronk and Phil Ochs. His father, in an early phase of his career as an artist, was painting basketball ...

It wasn’t a dream

Ned Beauman: Christopher Priest, 10 October 2013

The Adjacent 
by Christopher Priest.
Gollancz, 432 pp., £12.99, June 2013, 978 0 575 10536 2
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... Two days after the announcement of the shortlist for last year’s Arthur C. Clarke Award for best science fiction novel, Christopher Priest wrote on his blog that part of the award’s purpose is to prove to ‘the larger world’ that science fiction ‘is a progressive, modern literature, with diversity and ambition and ability, and not the pool of generic rehashing that the many outside detractors of science fiction are so quick to assume it is ...

Binarisms

John Sutherland, 18 November 1993

Complicity 
by Iain Banks.
Little, Brown, 313 pp., £15.99, September 1993, 0 316 90688 3
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Against a Dark Background 
by Iain M. Banks.
Orbit, 496 pp., £8.99, January 1994, 1 85723 185 6
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... Say ‘Iain Banks’ and the person you are talking to will say ‘The Wasp Factory.’ Banks may have as much trouble getting out from under the success of his first novel as did William Golding. It was a memorable debut. The Wasp Factory provoked a moral panic in 1984 ...

I don’t want your revolution

Marco Roth: Jonathan Lethem, 20 February 2014

Dissident Gardens 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Cape, 366 pp., £18.99, January 2014, 978 0 224 09395 8
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... The early​ 21st century brought a new type of American novel. Its best-known practitioners – all men of the same generation, born in the mid to late 1960s – are Michael Chabon, Junot Díaz and Jonathan Lethem. The books they wrote were interested in popular culture or counterculture as much as in the thoughts and passions of characters ...

Diary

John Lanchester: Among the Balls, 20 July 2006

... history seems to be the best guide to performance in World Cups. In the last six Cups, going back to 1982, 11 out of 12 slots in the final have been contested by just four teams: Brazil, Argentina, Germany and Italy. In fact, there has never been a final without one of these four teams. Why? It is interesting and odd that history should be such a powerful ...

Diary

Robert Irwin: The Best Thing since Sex, 2 December 1993

... I have been working on a review of a facsimile edition of Vivant Denon’s Voyage dans la Basse et la Haute Egypte (first published in 1802). After only a couple of hours of typing and revising, I am tense. I visualise the tension as a spider perched on the nape of my neck, where it inserts its poison-tipped legs into my flesh ...

Sashimi with a Side of Fries

Adam Thirlwell: Michael Chabon, 16 August 2007

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union 
by Michael Chabon.
Fourth Estate, 414 pp., £17.99, June 2007, 978 0 00 715039 7
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... The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Michael Chabon’s charming, flawed and exhausting new novel: bik (Yiddish: bull) – doorman latke (Yiddish: potato cake) – 1. police cap 2. policeman noz (Yiddish: nose) – policeman shammes (Yiddish: assistant to rabbi, beadle) – policeman sholem ...

But this is fateful!

Theo Tait: Jonathan Lethem, 16 March 2017

The Blot: A Novel 
by Jonathan Lethem.
Cape, 289 pp., £16.99, February 2017, 978 0 224 10148 6
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The Blot 
by Jonathan Lethem and Laurence Rickels.
Anti-Oedipus, 88 pp., £6.99, September 2016, 978 0 9905733 7 1
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... Trying to make sense​ of Jonathan Lethem’s fiction as a whole is something of a fool’s errand: there is no easily discernible line from the early hipster science fiction to his big-selling detective story Motherless Brooklyn (1999), to his Cobble Hill coming-of-age novel The Fortress of Solitude (2003) to his intricate, ironic New York Buddenbrooks, Dissident Gardens (2013 ...

Diary

Jonathan Lethem: Theatre of Injury, 15 December 2016

... I write​ out of disarray, from a field of compatriots in disarray. We’re drifting like astronauts, distantly tethered by emails like the one I just got from a friend: ‘i feel like he is making everyone sick, and bipolar ...

Smash the Screen

Hal Foster: ‘Duty Free Art’, 5 April 2018

Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War 
by Hito Steyerl.
Verso, 256 pp., £16.99, October 2017, 978 1 78663 243 2
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... field, as painting and sculpture were pressured by photography and film, and modernists like Walter Benjamin and László Moholy-Nagy redefined literacy as the ability to read both. For Benjamin, the reproducibility of these media not only shattered the auratic power of the unique work (this was mostly wishful ...

Prussian Blues

Fredric Jameson, 17 October 1996

Ein weites Feld 
by Günter Grass.
Steidl, 784 pp., DM 49.80, August 1995, 3 88243 366 3
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... Can there be literature after reunification? It strikes one as something of a science fictional question. Philip K. Dick, indeed, posited a future world in which the Axis powers had won World War Two, and proceeded to divide the United States down the middle into two zones with two decidedly different regimes of military occupation ...

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