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Galaxies

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Esented to the best SF novel of the year by a distinguished committee of SF experts authors and critics Thereafter he received nominations for the Hugo Nebula and Philip K Dick Awards among others Nonetheless his writing has not received the attention it so profoundly deserves GALAXIES is among the works listed in acclaimed SF editor David Pringle's SCIENCE FICTION THE 100 BEST NOVELS published in 1985 With an introduction by Jack Dann this special paperback edition ushers Malzberg's genius into the twenty first centu. Meta Not a novel but a set of notes for one from the character of a stuffy bloodless science fiction author trapped in suburbia and desperate to use grand themes and be taken seriously like his literary heroes Cheever and Barthelme Occasionally funny sometimes annoying his stilted abstract dialogue plays like a low rent Waiting for Godot Not bad not great but like all science fiction the hook is in the concept not the characterizationConfused the hell out of me as a teen especially as the cheap paperback cover blurb looks plays it like a straight sci fi novel Now coming back to it after some years I can get it

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There is a spectre haunting the science fiction genre the spectre of Barry N Malzberg In a genre that with one hand claimed to be the ultimate storehouse of innovation and with the other leveled strict rules for writing and codes of narrative conduct onto its authors Malzberg stuck out like a forked tongue composing works of bona fide literature that dwarfed the efforts of his contemporaries and established him as one of science fiction's most dynamic enfant terribles Originally published in 1975 GALAXIES is a masterw. First thoughts So this is totally the glorious wild genre deconstruction that was promised to meLater alright Malzberg I know you admitted up front in one of your narrative puncturing authorial address sections that it wasn't your thing and I really don't care about hard sf either but I at least need to know your working model for how a black hole acts with a little specificity They're inherently fascinating and your conception is just a little too spongy it's an unending limbo the living and the dead become interchangeable leaping out of it is potentially universe breaking Amazing Now please give some slight lead on why we're to believe these thingsAnd then This is very nearly a critical essay on genre fiction form and framing such as a narrative novel or mixing the two so thoroughly is actually pretty elegantAnd I know you're aware of it since you interject descriptions of how to get a word count up when needed but I'm pretty sure you're stallingAnd especially since the conflict stated at the very start is a pretty simple the problem has only one possible solution which theoretically is impossible OR IS IT deal which you've weirdly fleshed out with very vague philosophical discussion rather than any kind of systematic working through of the theoretical outcomes based on the physics that supposedly inspired thisAnd finally Audacious success of a deconstruction of a sci fi novel not so compelling narrative drive conflict character I'm realizing a not so atypical Malzberg system theoretically engaging than actually but still an odd and interesting appropriation of the willingness of sci fi publishers to print practically anything if the cover copy sounds okay Which I have to love

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Ork of the Malzberg canon which includes over fifty novels and collections Metafictional absurdist and sardonic the book mounts a concerted attack against the market forces that prescribed SF of the 1970s and continue to prescribe it today At the same time the book tells a story of technology and cyborgs of bureaucracy and tachyons of love and hate and sadness Despite his deviant literary antics Malzberg could not be ignored by the SF community In 1973 he won the first annual John W Campbell Memorial Award which is pr. In a way Barry Malzberg’s science fiction is closer to criticism than it is to ‘literature’ The way that his books interrogate and deconstruct the genre matters almost than ‘plot’ and ‘character’ It’s just as well that he is such a good writer And that he so obviously loves what he is compelled to destroy ‘Galaxies’ is the textbook exampleYou could say that ‘Galaxies’ is the book that he had to write Its structure is one that actually underlies most of his books simply made prominent in this case It is a science fiction story – a solitary troubled female astronaut ferrying a ship full of dead people into a black galaxy – in which the author keeps stepping forward to discuss what he is writing Not so much a story as notes towards an unwritten story with a running commentary on the futility of it all not just the subject matter but the act of writing itself It’s the kind of trick that a writer can only pull off once in a career As a story it's not one of his best but the structure rescues it Frustrating necessarily incomplete but if you are interested in the nature of science fiction and the process of writing clever and often wickedly funny

  • Paperback
  • 208
  • Galaxies
  • Barry N. Malzberg
  • en
  • 07 August 2019
  • 9780989239141

10 thoughts on “Galaxies

  1. says:

    Ceci n'est pas une pipe This is not a pipeAnd Galaxies is not a book Or rather it is a book But it is not a book you or I can read It is a hypothetical book And so Galaxies the one that we are reading is a meta book Malzberg is writing a book about writing a book And playfully deliberately and entirely as expected he spends so much time talking about how he plans to write it properly that he never really gets around to actually writing it And yet at the same time he does it is written often artfully so but interwoven with authorial commentary throughoutSo this is a meta book And I am not clever enough to present a meta review of it Suffice to say though fans of science fiction and postmodernism like myself will absolutely adore this skewering of the writing process and particularly the sci fi genre itself in such sly academic ways5 stars out of 5 Compelling and rich with a wonderfully philosophical mien

  2. says:

    First thoughts So this is totally the glorious wild genre deconstruction that was promised to meLater alright Malzberg I know you admitted up front in one of your narrative puncturing authorial address sections that it wasn't your thing and I really don't care about hard sf either but I at least need to know your working model for how a black hole acts with a little specificity They're inherently fascinating and your conception is just a little too spongy it's an unending limbo the living and the dead become interchangeable leaping out of it is potentially universe breaking? Amazing Now please give some slight lead on why we're to believe these thingsAnd then This is very nearly a critical essay on genre fiction form and framing such as a narrative novel or mixing the two so thoroughly is actually pretty elegantAnd I know you're aware of it since you interject descriptions of how to get a word count up when needed but I'm pretty sure you're stallingAnd especially since the conflict stated at the very start is a pretty simple the problem has only one possible solution which theoretically is impossible OR IS IT? deal which you've weirdly fleshed out with very vague philosophical discussion rather than any kind of systematic working through of the theoretical outcomes based on the physics that supposedly inspired thisAnd finally Audacious success of a deconstruction of a sci fi novel not so compelling narrative drive conflict character I'm realizing a not so atypical Malzberg system theoretically engaging than actually but still an odd and interesting appropriation of the willingness of sci fi publishers to print practically anything if the cover copy sounds okay Which I have to love

  3. says:

    i like this book i love the idea of this book galaxies is as you have read in all the other reviews here not really a novel it's the sketch of a novel it's a criticism of science fiction it's a literary essay it's a one sided dialogue with the trends in seventies fiction it is riveting but tied to its time it is self aware and it is an interesting story but it's also just a little too pretentious for me to give it 5 stars malzberg obviously hadhas a very interesting mind but galaxies just rides a little too hard on the gimmick still some of the writing legitimately sent me into a little bit of a self reflective tailspin this book than most conventionally science fiction encourages you to engage not just with the story but with the few very big uestions only science fiction writing can properly ask

  4. says:

    In a way Barry Malzberg’s science fiction is closer to criticism than it is to ‘literature’ The way that his books interrogate and deconstruct the genre matters almost than ‘plot’ and ‘character’ It’s just as well that he is such a good writer And that he so obviously loves what he is compelled to destroy ‘Galaxies’ is the textbook exampleYou could say that ‘Galaxies’ is the book that he had to write Its structure is one that actually underlies most of his books simply made prominent in this case It is a science fiction story – a solitary troubled female astronaut ferrying a ship full of dead people into a black galaxy – in which the author keeps stepping forward to discuss what he is writing Not so much a story as notes towards an unwritten story with a running commentary on the futility of it all not just the subject matter but the act of writing itself It’s the kind of trick that a writer can only pull off once in a career As a story it's not one of his best but the structure rescues it Frustrating necessarily incomplete but if you are interested in the nature of science fiction and the process of writing clever and often wickedly funny

  5. says:

    In the ironic cyclical nature of this novel I imagine it only fitting that it ended the way it began both in terms of the way it's presented as well as my own feelings towards it It began with the author stating his intentions for a novel that would at its completion be called Galaxies Of course it went meta the author inserting himself his thoughts into almost every chapter Many it could go this way or it could go that way or maybe even this way At some point it became an amusing at times highly amusing comment on how novels particularly sci fi novels are written What eventually turned this novel upon itself was the repetition of scenes There are 49 chapters many two or three pages at most the occasional lasting a hearty 8 Out of these 49 at least a dozen involved the main character and several subordinates having the same argument Over and over The same dialogue Maybe to prove a point The cyclical nature But dammit to hell it was boring Ideas were pretty good but even at 55000 words the author's estimation it was 30000 too many

  6. says:

    This is how every novel should be written and how every novel should not be written To be fair it's stated at the beginning that it is not a novel at all but notes towards a novel Those notes collect the basic elements of story plot character setting and set them aside philosophical musings and other mental droppings It's entertaining and new and even exciting for a while then I found myself wanting to read a novel not the notes towards one or at least notes that veered closer to novel than novelty Yet it is I who have demanded novels be novel and here I am presented with one that is novel to a T light speed space travel defined and debated; a ship with a cargo of the dead who earn speaking roles later on in this slim volume a big breasted protagonist though the author writes the real protagonist is the black hole that sucks the woman pilot and her dead cargo into a 70000 year sinkhole of time and space; the Three Stooges of cyborgs; and I'd probably give this stars someday I want to read it again I liked it I really did but I feel as if we missed each other on the course of the page to my brain but for now I just wanted to finish it and move on to a book of poetry which Barry N Malzberg almost achieved here but almost only counts in Horseshoe Nebulas

  7. says:

    Anguished by hyper lucidity a disembodied science fiction writer taps out the letters “LENA THOMAS” and instantly finds himself “warped” to the female astronaut’s domain of the 40th century Lena and the writer’s subconscious then develop a strange intimacy while they attempt to explore a mysterious “black galaxy” But theirs is a fleeting and rarefied relationship constantly hounded by greedy homicidal bureaucrats committed to the expansion of bureaus and tormented by the idea of fragmentationBlurb from the 1989 Carroll Graf ‘Masters of Science Fiction’ paperback editionMalzberg is nothing if not irreverent and no doubt shocked some of his erstwhile colleagues of the time with this book in which the author takes us behind the scenes to give us the process or at least his process of writing a Science Fiction novelThe author in louacious detail gives us his notes on a posited novel to be entitled ‘Galaxies’ in which Starship Captain Lena Thomas on a mission to discover new Earth type worlds for colonisation is trapped within a ‘black galaxy’ ie the event horizon of an enormous neutron star which has also trapped the light of an entire galaxy with a cargo of dead passengers who may or may not be revived when she reaches her destination Their money has paid for the missionWhether this story is important or not is one of the issues the disillusioned author agonises over as he lectures us on the predictability of Science Fiction readers and the fallibility of his fellow authorsIn one sense this is Malzberg himself raging at the complacency of SF writers of the Nineteen Seventies‘There are a few among us who know science and a few who understand fiction but there is not a single science fiction writer who can do both’ p 13And so Malzberg tells us that he has decided to rise to the challenge and write ‘Galaxies’ which was inspired by two articles by John W Campbell in ‘Analog’It is in turns witty despairing charming sometimes even pleading to readers and writers of the genre to take a good hard look at themselves and what they are reading and writingIt may be that the dead in Lena’s ship are a metaphor for Malzberg’s readers They after all are the ones who paid for the trip but in the end despite everything that is said to them they do not listen How can they? They are dead The prostheses who are computerised personalities installed in the ship to offer somewhat limited advice may be metaphors for other SF writers And if Lena is a metaphor for the writer himself then the black galaxy is SF itself and Malzberg can only escape by risking everything and leavingDespite its perhaps misplaced nihilism They may be few but there are contemporary scientists who write very good SF ‘Galaxies’ is a tour de force of public rebellionShortly after this novel was published Malzberg announced that he was giving up writing SF and abandoned the genre

  8. says:

    3 12 stars A cocktail that mixes meta commentary on science fiction cliches with its own existential tale of a female astronaut trapped in an eternal fall into a black hole The conceit and Malzberg's sharp thought is uite exhilarating at the beginning but I actually wish he'd pushed the meta exploration further eg how about showing examples of alternate versions of the story based on different market pressuresdifferent approaches instead of sticking to its one repetitive scenario the story of our trapped astronaut stays consistent despite the narrator interruptions and some of the novel's in story stabs at profundity fall ridiculously flat though with some of them it's hard to tell if its intentional parody of overwrought existential inertia? All in all intriguing and I'd like to sample a bit Malzberg though the summaries of some of his other works makes it sound like he may too often re use the scenario of scientistastronaut trapped in a situation where they can do nothing but wax existential dread as his counter to the old technological hero solves problems with reason trope of science fiction

  9. says:

    Meta Not a novel but a set of notes for one from the character of a stuffy bloodless science fiction author trapped in suburbia and desperate to use grand themes and be taken seriously like his literary heroes Cheever and Barthelme Occasionally funny sometimes annoying his stilted abstract dialogue plays like a low rent Waiting for Godot Not bad not great but like all science fiction the hook is in the concept not the characterizationConfused the hell out of me as a teen especially as the cheap paperback cover blurb looks plays it like a straight sci fi novel Now coming back to it after some years I can get it

  10. says:

    Unusual book from 1975 The whole thing is in the form of 'novel notes' I guess it's supposed to be partly telling a story and partly providing a glimpse into the mind of the writer as he works Or somethingI felt like Malzberg mostly pulled off what would have been just a gimmick for a lot of writers Spacecraft in the year 39xx is pulled out of hyperspace by a galaxy sized black hole The expedition is financed by the estates of dead people whose bodies are on board in the hopes of a resurrecting effect that occurs in hyperspaceNot his best work but worth reading

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