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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Weird, strange, a novel like no other., 19 Feb. 2013
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This review is from: Unquenchable Fire (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
Despite being a SF Masterwork, Unquenchable Fire is very much a work of speculative fiction. Set in an America following a spiritual revolution, science is the last thing on the mind when surrounded by miracles and spirits.

Immensely imaginative the story follows Jenny, a young woman chosen for great things who just wants to live a regular life. The main theme of the book is how losing control affects Jenny who is trapped in a world where ritual and religion is the only thing holding society together.

The imagery in the stories of the founders is rich, and the stories will stay with you a while after reading them. I can't help but feel that there is a lot of the spiritual aspect of the book which went straight over my head, due to lack of familiarity with subjects such as Tarot, a subject the author is an expert on.

I found this book to be a challenge, by taking a location familiar to the reader but changing the rules of society so completely led to a disorientating feel to much of the book. A bit too abstract at times I found it difficult to follow, but the narrative is rewarding enough if you can manage to stick with it
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 16 Jun 2014 19:53:59 BDT
Euromancer says:
'Despite being an SF Masterwork, Unquenchable Fire is very much a work of speculative fiction.

SF can stand for Science Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Science Fantasy and Structural Fabulation. Robert Heinlein and Harlan Ellison particularly argued (a long time before the likes of Margaret Atwood tried unsuccessfully to distinguish between Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction) that Science Fiction should more accurately be called Speculative Fiction. In other words, they are the SAME thing. This is why using 'SF' as a descriptor is more useful than either and why it is the professional's preference above the dreadful journo neoligism 'sci-fi', which sounds dismissive and is regarded as pejorative by writers, critics and serious SF fans.

In short, Speculative Fiction IS Science Fiction. All fiction speculates by default, so SF is extra-speculative. The elements in SF that make it SF are explained by the author of the individual work as scientific novums (the novelties that take the work out of the realm of realism) - this is sometimes done in a very subtle fashion. Novums that have a supernatural - or non-explained origin - are more broadly fantastic than those based on scientific speculation, so they are Fantasy.

Stephen E Andrews, author, '100 Must Read Science Fiction Novels', '100 Must Read Fantasy Novels'
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