Cormac McCarthy

Apocalyptic Fiction

The apocalypse is not about the disaster. It’s not about the zombies or giant lizards or robots or radiation. It is about how we survive it.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Crossroads: “Speculative” Literary Fiction and SF/F Techniques

Last week, we talked about how works of speculative fiction deploy techniques commonly found in literary fiction. This week, we’re going to flip that coin and look at how mainstream literary fiction employs techniques developed and refined in science fiction and fantasy. There are many theories as to what constitutes the “core technique” underlying speculative […]

Venn diagram of Literary Fiction/Speculative Fiction along Character/Plot Spectrum

Crossroads: The Cores of Literary Fiction and Speculative Fiction

The relationship between speculative fiction and mainstream literary fiction is complicated by decades of group identity dynamics, mutual ignorance, and overbroad critical generalizations about both genres. However, if we try to put our long-held attitudes to one side and focus our attention on the works themselves, we find that the two genres are neither incompatible, […]

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Crossroads: Tensions between SF/F and Mainstream Literary Fiction

Welcome to the first week of May! This month, I’m going to be taking a look at the often-fraught relationship between speculative fiction and mainstream literary fiction. I’ve always found the love-hate relationship between devotees of each genre fascinating because each relies so heavily on the other to renew itself. But the ways in which […]

Individualism, Atheism, and the Search for God in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road

The following essay originally appeared in issue number 111 of the quarterly journal Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, edited by Graham Sleight. Revised and expanded, 2nd ed. Cormac McCarthy’s post-apocalyptic novel The Road exemplifies both the acknowledgment of essential human goodness and the flaws inherent in the Emersonian individualism that has grown to […]