Thursday, October 19, 2006

A note from Alan Halsey
about the new science fiction novel Ultravioleta
by Laura Moriarty
(just out from Atelos)
which is based on his image
Sonata for The Ancient Mariner

Dear Laura

I finally fell into some free time or perhaps I mean space to read UV through, the first time since it became a real book with covers & suchlike regalia. A great read & one really does get lost in it, particularly marked I suppose by the fact that initially it does seem very strange & bearings are hard to find but then well I suppose it is that in one's reading one actually becomes one of the characters because after all they're mostly reading too & disappearing in their own & each others' texts. I'm sure I congratulated you on it before but I do so again. I've been thinking how it's undeniably a novel in its narrative & characters & dialogues and yet despite those distinguishing marks it always feels as if it's proceeding in an un-novelish way in that so much of it is determined by the kind of slippages of language, homophones & suchlike, by which generally only poems construct themselves. Which of course is all grist to your theme of mind, world & time as constantly generating & generated text, however transmitted but most elegantly in paper ships. There's a point towards the end, during the catastrophe, when my own reading mind began to detach itself from the narrative as such & see it as a kind of endless scroll reeling out from the earth which nobody has ever left; I express this badly because it's hard to express, it's more a mental visual image than a thought, but there again that's the trick of the thing & it's what you've achieved.

It's strange too to register the fact that it's a book of which I'm a unique & honoured reader, in that nobody else can possibly have the same sense of its relation to my Sonata as I do. I'm sure other readers will see it but only I can stand at that particular angle, be conscious throughout of that relation & hyperconscious of the passages where you draw directly on its imagery; I'm an amateur in sci-fi but I wonder how many futuristic spaceships have 18th C masts or play on the sundry associations of paper boats (so glad that detail appears on the cover). It's caused me to think a lot about the different dimensionalities or perhaps I only mean densities of graphic works on paper & extended text, the way the visual has to do all its work within a small compass but text can expand & stretch its wings in undefined spaces. Of course this is not a sudden revelation, and I know very well that the small compass is what attracts me to the visual form & reflects too in much of my poesy, but the relation between that work of mine & this of yours as it were emblazons the difference & perhaps also the sameness it proceeds from. Am tying myself in knots but I hope you see my gist.


Sonata for The Ancient Mariner


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