Newman, Sandra

Tagged: Author

(1965-    ) US author whose later fiction is oF sf interest, though her earlier work edges deftly out of mimetic constraints, an instance being her first novel, The Only Good Thing Anyone Has Ever Done (2002), whose hallucinatedly fragmented narrative renders a dislocated America almost graphically enough to register as an exercise in Fantastika. Her third novel, The Country of Ice Cream Star (2014), is set in a moderately distant Near Future Ruined Earth version of America; all children die about the age of twenty of an incurable disease; the protagonist, who is Young Adult by default, embarks on a Fantastic Voyage through the surreal continent in search of a cure for the plague (significantly, it is known as Posies). She tells her own story, in a transfigured English (see Linguistics) that may be deliberately evocative of the invented dialect in Russell Hoban's Riddley Walker (1981). Epiphanies are somewhat congestedly experienced.

Newman's fourth novel, The Heavens (2019), is set part in an Alternate History version of the early twenty-first century, a slightly (though fragilely) improved version of the real world, with a female president who does not deny Climate Change; the protagonist engages in her life, which she increasingly thinks she understands as mutating – like the world around her – in tune to changes she can detect in the text of plays by William Shakespeare. At the same time she experiences profound "dreams", described as though they were literal Timeslips, finding herself in 1593, and occupying the role of Emilia, who in this novel is Shakespeare's Dark Lady of the Sonnets. Her continuing effect on his work turns The Heavens (in part) into a Time Paradox drama, if read literally. In Mainstream Writer of SF terms, however, it may be possible to read the protagonist as mentally ill, and the novel as metaphorical of this. [JC]

Sandra Newman

born Boston, Massachusetts: 6 November 1965


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