On the deconstruction themes I’ve been curious about, from Arwen: “I haven't read any of the books you mention. I know of Dhalgren but never got past about page 2, so I can't answer your question definitively, but I think it is an established literary convention, probably deriving from Modernism. The example that comes to mind is in Joyce's Ulysses, in the "oxen of the sun" chapter, which is also a recapitulation of the development of the English language, so each section is written in a different style. There's an Anglo-Saxon strong verse style, a Shakespearean style, a Dickensian style, and so on, up to the last section that disintegrates into a lot of squawking, yammering, and shouting advertising sloguns, thus indicating the disintegration of English/civilization in modern times. Re. Dhalgren, all I can offer is that Delany is sometimes called the "James Joyce of science fiction." I don't associate sci fi with Modernism (in the Modernist age, I think, most sci fi was anti-Modernist and vice versa, like Wells vs. Woolf). But postmodernism leaked into sci fi and borrowed from sci fi all over the place, which is natural given
postmodernism's preoccupation with modern technology, cybernetics, etc. So there's a lot of pomo SF out there. Cyberpunk seems pretty pomo as a whole genre. And pomo borrowed a lot of its conventions, including playing with linguistic expectations, from Modernism, so that may be the line of descent
you're looking at.”
So there. Which brings us, finally, to Philip K. Dick. Wow.
PK’s stories have been turned into a zillion movies: Blade Runner, Imposter, Total Recall, Screamers, Minority Report, Pay Check. Even as I type this, more movies based on his stories are being filmed.
However, I am chagrined to admit that although I have always loved these movies, I have never read any books by him before. I was too young (eighth grade), when I tried Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and was so lost in the first chapter I had to put it down. Fortunately, my reunion with this great writer is The Man in The High Castle. And it is just amazing that this chill, gut-wrenching story has not been made into a movie...
...because The Man in the High Castle introduces us to Dandelion (Löwenzahn), a Nazi plot to annihilate other races with the finality of blowing the head off of a dandelion. Isn’t that the most frightening and telling image of all time? With one word? Wow.
And it doesn’t stop there. Each page is filled with twists and tendrils of science fiction, telling details of humanity, genuine and flawed characters, and most importantly? The themes of destiny and fate directly affect the structure of this story: the artwork made by a naïve thief eventually saves his life when a high-ranking official, after pondering the piece, decides he is not going to participate in manslaughter. The broker of the art piece refuses to buy a gun made by the thief from the high ranking official, thus allowing the official to protect himself and go on to save the artist. This convoluted turning of stories is a parallel image of the themes of the ever-turning eternal nature of destiny. Double wow. And lastly, the ending details are perfectly revealed and wrapped up because this world has been painstakingly thought out. Triple
The lessons in this book are myriad. Keep action and story high-end, high-stakes for the reader and the characters. Make your world complete and oozing details, mood, tone. Detail,detail, detail. The very story you tell and the way you tell it can be another way to bring forward your theme. If your theme is tied to your science fiction and your science fiction is completely explored, you can kill two birds with one stone.
Two birds, one stone.