Thursday, 24 August 2017

Lawrence Durrell: Science Fiction Writer?


Lawrence Durrell was not Indian nor was he Irish but was he a Sci-Fi writer?  This entry in the Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction says that Tunc and Nunquam and also The Avignon Quintet put him in that category.

Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990) Indian poet and author (his English/Irish family settled in India about 1850), in England from 1923 to 1935, then in Greece and elsewhere; best known for the Alexandria Quartet (1957-1960). His fourth novel, Cefal├╗ (1947; vt The Dark Labyrinth 1961) is a Near Future tale set Underground in a Cretan Labyrinth, where emanations out of the Minoan Time Abyss afflict the protagonists. His sf novel sequence, Tunc (1968) and Nunquam (1970), assembled as The Revolt of Aphrodite (omni 1974) – the original title is from Petronius Arbiter: "aut tunc, aut nunquam" ("either then or never") – subjects sf material to intensely literary scrutiny. In the first volume, Merlin, a burgeoning multinational corporation, co-opts the protagonist, Felix Charlock, into constructing a super-Computer, which can predict the future and which drives him to madness; in the second volume, Felix is cured in order to create an Android lady – echoing a Durrell obsession – perfectly duplicating a destroyed lover of the boss of Merlin; but the android is also destroyed in a Near-Future world choked with evil and images of corruption. The late Avignon Quincunx [for titles see Checklist] is an immensely complex Gnostic fantasy which exfoliates – in a series of Hermetic and numerological figurations – out of a central quincunx comprised of place, Time, Metaphysics, reincarnated figures, mirrors.