Two Literary Superstars Publishing Science Fiction Novels SoonS

The trend of literary authors veering into science fiction shows no sign of slowing down, as science fiction remains the best way to talk about our weird era. Ian McEwan and Rick Moody both have SF books in the pipeline.

McEwan's book, Solar, comes out March 18, and has to do with a new technology that could rescue the environment. Here's the blurb, from the two-time Booker Prize winner's own website:

Michael Beard is in his late fifties; bald, overweight, unprepossessing – a Nobel prize-winning physicist whose best work is behind him. Trading on his reputation, he speaks for enormous fees, lends his name to the letterheads of renowned scientific institutions and half-heartedly heads a government-backed initiative tackling global warming. An inveterate philanderer, Beard finds his fifth marriage floundering. When Beard's professional and personal worlds are entwined in a freak accident, an opportunity presents itself, a chance for Beard to extricate himself from his marital mess, reinvigorate his career and very possibly save the world from environmental disaster.

According to the Guardian, McEwan's main character "discovers a way to fight climate change after managing to derive power from artificial photosynthesis, using light to split water into hydrogen and oxygen." And Beard is a bit of a dickhead, having gotten himself into trouble by saying publicly that the scarcity of women at the top of the sciences is due to inherent differences between men's and women's brains, not sexism. That's going to make him a hard protagonist for me to sympathize with, to be honest.

Meanwhile, Moody's Four Fingers Of Death, due out in July, is a "900-page comic novel about a disembodied arm, set in the desert in 2026," Moody told Night Train Magazine. The author of The Ice Storm describes the influences that led to this novel's odd genesis:

It began in two ways: 1) I really love bad, old horror movies, the b-film variety, the drive-in variety, especially from the late fifties and early sixties, which was the period of horror films that I watched a lot as a kid. I just loved them. In this novel, I wanted to try to make my own one of these films, so I picked a particularly embarrassing example, THE CRAWLING HAND (1963), and began adapting it. 2) Meanwhile, I wanted to write a book about the desert, because I have been spending a lot of time in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona in the last ten years. Or, if not a book ABOUT the desert, at least a book LOCATED in the desert. Then (3) if those things weren't enough, I allowed a name from my book to be auctioned off by a first-amendment-related charity in California. The winner, he who paid the top dollar, got to have his name in my book. The winner was one Montese Crandall. Upon having control of this name, which I loved so much, I had to create a context for him in the novel, so he became the narrator and controlling intelligence thereof. In ways that will become clear when you see it. Well, there's another factor, too. (4) I wanted to write a novel in the style of the novels I first loved when I was a teenager, viz.,Vonnegut/Brautigan/Robbins/Pynchon/Dick/Heinlein.

I have to say, any book that draws on old horror movies and the influences of Vonnegut, Dick, Pynchon and Heinlein has automatically shot to the top of my reading list. With a bullet. [via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]