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Publisher Description

This collection of articles on sf writer Geoff Ryman's fiction initially took shape not unlike a Micky Rooncy-Judy Garland musical. A mutual discovery of common interest (in this case Ryman's work) led to a conversation which went something like this: "Gee, my dad has a barn--or in this case, we have a journal editor who is interested--let's put on a show." In one sense, the six pieces which comprise the Geoff Ryman special edition of Extrapolation, like any good revue (or is it review?), do run the gamut in terms of form and content: we have an author conversation/interview, a short essay, and four articles, including comparative pieces which range across Ryman's oeuvre and beyond and a variety of theoretically informed close readings. When we issued the call for papers for this special issue on Ryman, we were hoping for articles which would address both the breadth of Ryman's oeuvre and the variety of critical approaches available. Although the submissions we received left us with some specific omissions--we have, for example, nothing in this issue on The Warrior Who Carried Life (1980), on Ryman's hypertext novel, 253, or Tube Theatre (1998), or on his novellas and short fiction (1)--the six pieces in this issue demonstrate both a diversity of critical approaches and a remarkable congruence of interests and interpretations. While the various pieces draw on everything from information technology theory to queer theory to ethical philosophy to psychoanalysis and while they address all of Ryman's novels except for 253, the ways in which they dovetail with each other is a particularly keen indication of Ryman's incisive and compelling sense of what it means to live in contemporary culture(s) and to engage with both past(s) and futurc(s). Surprisingly, gratifyingly, the quite disparate pieces have coalesced in a way that makes them greater than the sum of their parts; or, to extend the musical metaphor, they seem to have moved beyond gratuituous singing and dancing (though what's wrong with that?) to offer readers something more. The conversations that emerge on these pages speak clearly, we suggest, to the importance both of Ryman's work and of the work we can reasonably expect any fiction, but particularly science fiction, to do. That this work necessarily engages us with questions of subjectivity, intersubjective ethics, responsibility and healing, both as writers and readers, is something which Ryman himself, in his conversation with Hiromi Goto in this collection, indicates when he says of stories that "their healing power lies in their honesty, the freshness of the vision, the new and unexpected things they show, the increase in power and responsibility they give the reader" (208). Geoff Ryman is, in many ways, particularly well placed as a writer through whom to encounter these questions of subjectivity, intersubjective ethics, relationality, responsibility and healing. The different ways that his work occupies a significant space within science fiction and, arguably, contemporary fiction more generally, are suggested by his involvement with the mundane sf movement; the immediacy of his work and its imaginative reponsiveness to issues and concepts which shape the contemporary cultural moment; and his engagement with issues of gender, sexuality and cultural diversity. Ryman's work encompasses an expansive range of topics, genres and forms. His early works include the fantasy novel, The Warrior Who Carried Life and the finely crafted, haunting dystopian novellas in the collection Unconqaered Countries (1986), including The Unconquered Country, which won both the British Science Fiction Award and a World Fantasy Award. Elements of the fantastical erupt into and interrupt apparently conventional or mainstream narratives in the novels Was (1992), Lust (2001) and The King's Last Song (2006) and the novella, Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter (2006), enabling Ryman's texts to effect an unconventional bridging of pasts and presents,

Professional & Technical
June 22
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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