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3 January 2013
‘Where Silverberg goes today, the rest of science fiction will follow tomorrow’
This month: The Raft of Medusa . . .
I’ve been reading Odd Jobs, a bulky collection of essays that John Updike published in 1991—one of many such collections that that prolific writer produced. In it I’ve come across a startling account of the relationship between Updike and John Cheever, his great predecessor as a chronicle of suburban angst in short stories for The New Yorker and other magazines.
You may be wondering why I want to discuss Messrs. Updike and Cheever in a science fiction magazine, since neither one, after all, is generally considered to be a science fiction writer. In fact, both did dabble a bit in the stuff: Cheever’s eerie 1947 story, “The Enormous Radio,” has been reprinted in more than one SF anthology, while Updike wrote half a dozen stories that could be called science fiction or fantasy, several of which made it into Year’s Best Science Fiction collections, and even one SF novel, Toward the End of Time. But what interests me about the Updike-Cheever material in Odd Jobs is the light it casts on the general attitudes of writers toward one another, and, indirectly, on the way science fiction writers in particular relate to each other . . .