Tinker, Tailor, Launderer, Spy

I greatly enjoyed reading Jonathan McCalmont’s SFCrowsnet review of Saturn’s Children. He draws intriguing comparisons between the spy novels of Charles Stross and John LeCarre. He also supplies the language I’ve lacked to describe traits I admire in LeCarre’s stories. Never having written about LeCarre myself, my responses to his stories had never been so precisely expressed.

The review also triggered some tangential memories when, deep into the review, McCalmont made use of an observation by another writer and gave due credit:

Farah Mendlesohn talks about SF being a conversation because each generation of author picks up what previous generations have been talking about and puts their own spin on it.

The thought came unbidden, shouldn’t Kenneth Burke be getting credit here? Well, no, since Mendlesohn was the conduit. And there may well be sources that antedate Burke, so why be picky. I’m mentioning this reaction because I also associate certain ideas about literary criticism with the names of the people I first heard using them. It’s fun to remember what Penguin Dave Feldman had to say about leitmotifs when the idea was brand new to me. And the deceased inventor of the concept would have enjoyed Dave’s lecture, too.

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One thought on “Tinker, Tailor, Launderer, Spy

  1. Curiously, this special sort of “conversation” was a subject of Lois McMaster Bujold’s GoH speech the other day. She defines “genre” (my own paraphrase from memory!) as a body of work in conversation with itself, thus including areas as far afield from writing as architecture.

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