Cormac McCarthy Writes a Science Fiction Novel

You ask what makes me reject the dominant culture of the United States in the Year of Our Lord 2006. I answer that there is some shit I will not eat for profit. There are some things I will not do in order to achieve a nervous financial supremacy. I do not begrudge a beggar the crumbs while I serve the master of the castle prime cuts of meat, just so I can scramble after the scraps and scheme to become a master myself. I do not see the world as an inevitable war of all against all, of let's do it to them before they do it to us. It makes me a much better neighbor to have when the chips are down.

The boy asks: "We wouldn't ever eat anybody, would we?"
"No. Of course not..."
"No matter what."
"No. No matter what."
"Because we're the good guys."
"And we're carrying the fire."
"And we're carrying the fire. Yes."

I wonder if Harold Bloom is going to swallow his pride and read a science fiction novel...? Cormac McCarthy, one of Bloom's favorite writers, has written a post-apocalyptic novel, THE ROAD, cut from the same cloth as A CANTICLE FOR LEIBOWITZ and MEMOIRS OF A SURVIVOR, a slap upside the head to the self-congratulatory LEFT BEHIND series.

McCarthy has discovered that you can do things with the literature of the fantastic that cannot be done with any other genre. He probably already knew this; a writer's taste is rarely as limited as the critics', just as musicians listen to stuff their fans would never touch (Louis Armstrong loved Guy Lombardo). Critic's darlings Doris Lessing, Neil Gaiman, and Alan Moore would have told him the same thing. Margaret Atwood is still living in denial, insisting that novels like THE HANDMAID'S TALE and ORYX AND CRAKE are not science fiction.

The tropes of fantasy and science fiction are the same metaphors our ancestors used to populate the archetypes of myth. If the quality-- and the seriousness-- varies wildly-- that's the fault of the publishers and the writers, not the genre.

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