The Secret History of Science Fiction


In Don DeLillo’s latest novel, the weirdly exciting “Point Omega,” a character is “trying to read science fiction but nothing she’d read so far could begin to match ordinary life on this planet … for sheer unimaginableness.” With another writer, you might coax an unsurprising aesthetic from this point of view: Ignore the attractions of extraterrestrials and dystopia — the way we live now is more than ample fodder for the fiction writer’s art. The catch, of course, is that DeLillo has written science fiction and written it memorably. Indeed, it’s hard to think of an SF book that does quite the same thing as “Ratner’s Star” (1976), DeLillo’s early-career masterpiece. Part omnium gatherum, part comic novel, it’s a dense, entertaining, mind-bending boomerang of a book that luxuriates in the language of math and science while spinning an elegant, big-picture critique of those fields. Though daunting in structure and scale, it’s actually one of the more traditionally coherent of DeLillo’s books, with what amounts to a perfect resolution.

more from Ed Park at the LA Times here.