Sibilant Fricative by Adam Roberts (book review).

June 16, 2015 | By | Reply More

I feel slightly inadequate at the prospect of writing a review of ‘Sibilant Fricative’, a collection of reviews and essays from Adam Roberts. He is well-known and respected as a reviewer who is both perceptive and entertaining, while at the same time scholarly. He is the kind of author whose reviews are collected together and published in a book. Obviously. Which leads me to think that perhaps somebody else will write a review of this review elsewhere on the Internet, which will in turn be reviewed and so forth, until eventually Adam Roberts sums up all of the nested series of reviews into one volume and has them published as a collection. Meanwhile, my back-catalogue of 150 reviews is available to be collected and published, Ian.


So, generally my reviews aren’t scholarly, but I feel the occasion warrants a jaunt into Robertsesque erudition. The entire collection is predicated on the insights afforded by the pseudo-Whatesian author/reviewer Eigenstate, as opposed to the author/publisher dichotomy of true Whatesianism. This is amply demonstrated by the cover illustration, in which the reviewer smugly sports a beard, unlike his author photographs, which are characterised by a lack of facial hirsuteness. This, I believe, epitomises the central philosophy of the collection.

Also chthuluesque, menschenjäger, zeitgeist and quotidian. I couldn’t fit these words into the foregoing paragraph, but I thought them worth using nonetheless. Actually, the only reason I failed to use the word ‘menschenjäger’ is the disappointing lack of Cordwainer Smith coverage in the volume, which is frankly a crass oversight on the part of Adam Roberts.

Having got that off my chest, what of the reviews that were included? I’d read about a quarter of the books that Adam Roberts comments on, which made it particularly interesting to compare my opinion with his. He was, of course, wrong on most occasions. Fortunately for him, there is only one book out of the selection that I have also reviewed, which limits the scope for his chagrin at being so blatantly incorrect in his opinions. For the books I have not read, the reviews were wholly entertaining and where I was familiar with the respective author’s other books this gave an interesting insight into their body of work.

So, if you like scholarly, well-written, entertaining, amusing and varied reviews by a masterful reviewer, then get hold of a copy of ‘Sibilant Fricative’ or wait for my reviews to be collected and published, though these will be less scholarly, slightly rambling at times, and generally less opinionated; and in future perhaps more Robertseqsque.

Gareth D Jones

June 2015

(pub: Steel Quill, an imprint of Newcon Press. 269 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £14.99 (UK), $24.99 (US). ISBN: 978-1-907069-75-8)

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Category: Books, MEDIA

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