In the two books that form Anima - the fantasy novel The Course of the Heart and the SF novel Signs of Life - M. John Harrison showed that his excellent Viriconium books were only the beginning. Having finally achieved total freedom from all genre conventions, these two books are nothing but Harrison. They are fully alive, very well-written and show a depth that is very rarely achieved by writers of fantastic literature. I have no qualms in saying that Anima is not merely great fantasy and SF, it is also very good literature.
The Course of the Heart is a book about love and dreams, about giving meaning to a life that seems all too mundane. Using rich symbolism and a free mixture of the everyday and the magical, Harrison explores where spicing up one's life turns into escapism, and whether love helps or hinders us in accepting reality.
Signs of Life is also about love and dreams, but this time focused on the question whether we can achieve our dreams through methods external to ourselves - such as genetic engineering. The story follows the protagonist through a world of fast money and faster cars, in which he is implicated in many a dubious action without ever having the courage to take responsibility for his own life. Meanwhile, his girlfriend is attempting to make true her dreams of flying.
I cannot recommend these books highly enough. M. John Harrison is a great writer; undoubtedly one of the best living SF/F writers, but certainly also among the most original and interesting living writers tout court.
- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Gollancz; 1 edition (1 July 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0575075945
- ISBN-13: 978-0575075948
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.9 x 19.7 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 381 g
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