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Kavenna, Joanna

Entry updated 3 March 2020. Tagged: Author.

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(?   -    ) UK journalist and author some of whose novels make sophisticated use of the SF Megatext, like her second, The Birth of Love (2010), where an intense narrative analysis and presentation of the nature of childbirth is broken into four sequences, the first three of them nonfantastic. The fourth narrative is set in a Dystopian Near Future, a world devastated by Climate Change, with much of the sequence given over to the kind of interrogatory interview native to the Scientific Romance: a ruthless version of Eugenics involving euthanasia is espoused by the protagonist's jailor, as a rational response to population pressure on the depleted world. Come to the Edge (2012) is an essentially nonfantastic Satire of California, which contains a sharp portrait of aspirational survivalism (see Libertarian SF; Survivalist Fiction). A Field Guide to Reality (2016), a tale again redolent of the Scientific Romance, unpacks in a minimally disturbed Alternate World, where an Oxford professor has written a Meme-choked book designed to solve existential angst: but the book, which has become something of a McGuffin, has disappeared.

The Satire contained in Zed (2019) of a Near Future Media Landscape is very sharp; although the tale itself is driven by the eponymous Zed event, an unpredictable (or black swan) disruption in predictable "reality", the overall portrait of a surveillance-irradiated world retains its salience. The fragmented denarratized language of the tale woundedly affirms a sense that civilization itself has begun to break into floes. [JC]

Joanna Kavenna

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