Tuesday 21 June 2011

Quoth the Scotsman | Daniel Polansky on Decisions

A couple of caveats to bear in mind before we start. Unless otherwise indicated, none of the quotes quoted in the following article are representative of the beliefs of the person in question quoted nor those the person quoting the person in question. Additionally, any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental... or so I'm saying.

In short, Quoth the Scotsman is just a space here on TSS for me to post neat quotes as and when I come across them. Simple. As. That.


There's a great deal more than a good read riding on the success, or not, of The Straight Razor Cure - that is to say Low Town, if you're in the States. If it's well received, The Straight Razor Cure will of course serve to launch the career of one Daniel Polansky: a young American author, and a rather talented fellow by my estimation.

Moreover, however, here in the UK Polansky's debut is being positioned as "the launch title of Hodder's revitalised science fiction and fantasy list," so it follows that the publishers aforementioned will be paying close attention to its reception - both by critics and by the book-buying public at large - in the months to come. Whichever way you cut the mustard, a substantial new market for genre authors and a new avenue of speculative entertainment for readers so inclined would be Very Good Thing.

So I'm hoping The Straight Razor Cure does well. Exceedingly well, even - like a good cake. Thus it was with some trepidation that I heard rumblings about the blogosphere that Polansky's novel wasn't all it could have been.

Well, truth be told, what is?

As of the time of this writing I'm about two thirds through The Straight Razor Cureand if I'm not yet ready to champion Polansky as among the year's most exciting arrivals, that's in large part because I'm wary of making such claims without all the facts in hand. That said, I'm optimistic; it's made for pretty damn fine reading so far. Think the bastard offspring of Mark Charan Newton and Scott Lynch...

Not to give too much away, but I suppose you could say the following exchange - cod-philosophical and winningly self-aware - spoke to me. So I thought I'd do the decent thing and share:

"It's strange, the paths a man finds himself on. In the storybooks everyone's granted some critical moment, when the road forks and your options are laid out clear in front of you: heroism or villainy. But it's not like that, is it? Decisions follow decisions, each minor in and of itself, made in the heat of the moment or on the dregs of instinct. Then one day you look up and realise that you're stuck, that every muttered answer is a bar in the cage you've built, and the momentum of each choice moves you forward as inexorable as the will of the Firstborn."
"Eloquent, but untrue. I made a decision, once. If the consequences were worse than I had anticipated... that's because it was a bad decision."
"But that's my point, you see. How can you know which choices matter and which choices don't? There are decisions I have made that I regret, that were - that were not who I am. There are decisions I would unmake, were it possible to do so."

Decisions, right? Who would have 'em! :)

The Straight Razor Cure will be published by Hodder in the UK on August 18th. Doubleday, meanwhile, will have Low Town out the door a couple of days earlier in the States, albeit bearing - I think we can all agree - a rather less interesting title.

Expect a full review to hit The Speculative Scotsman well before either date.

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