I’ve written a lot of things during my career: science fiction, fantasy, horror, various hybrids of all of the above. And once upon a time, like many writers, I wrote a novel about the times and events I’d lived through… a story about my own generation, the Boomers, about our dreams and our disillusionments. It was centered on the music. Of course it was. Rock n roll was as central to my generation as the Vietnam War, the counterculture, television, and the sexual revolution. All those things wove together. Of course, being who I was, I added a fantasy/ horror element. The resulting novel was called THE ARMAGEDDON RAG. It was nominated for the World Fantasy Award (but lost, alas) and got some great reviews. I think it sold about twelve copies, but that’s another story. Oddly enough, it also opened the door to television and film for me, when a produce named Phil deGuere optioned it for a feature film… (that never got made, alas again)… but that’s another story too.
This post is not about the RAG, not really. It’s about another generational novel, one that has just been published, written by Lewis Shiner. Lew is an old friend, one of my original Wild Cards writers, the creator of Fortunato, the Astronomer, and Veronica, among other characters. He was a mainstay in the early Wild Cards books back in the 80s and early 90s. His first novel FRONTERA was a Hugo finalist, and he was one of the rising stars of the “mirrorshades” movement when cyberpunk came along. After that, however, Lew’s muse led him off in other directions. He drifted away from science fiction and wild cards, and went on to write a number of mainstream novels… about skateboarding, about tango dancing, about race relations, and yes, about rock music (the excellent GLIMPSES, a World Fantasy Award nominee — unlike ARMAGEDDON RAG, it won).
And now Lew has written his magnum opus. It’s a huge book, maybe five times as long as my RAG… much longer than anything Shiner has written before… but not a word is wasted. It’s called OUTSIDE THE GATES OF EDEN.
EDEN starts in the 60s and goes all the way up to the present day and the near future. Along the way it touches on the counterculture, the Summer of Love, the Vietnam War, Woodstock, and so much more… it is, in short, the story of a generation. Honestly, I really don’t know how Gen Xers or millenials will respond to it. Maybe they’ll see it as a historical novel, as distant from themselves as a novel of the Civil War. I can’t imagine a Boomer not responding to what Lew has done here. I read this in galleys, long before publication, and I find myself thinking back on it often. Let me give this one the ultimate compliment: I wish I had written it. I didn’t, though. Lew did.
You can read it for yourself by grabbing a copy from SubPress at:
Current Mood: contemplative