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London Free Press Article posted 08 July 2004 in Interviews and ReviewsLondon Free Press Article by MagnanimousOne, Candidate

Here is an article from Scott's hometown, London, Ontario. I am posting it in its entirety because I'm sure the Free Press link will disappear soon. In it I hear snippets from the hot topic lately re: the Mieville essay.

Question for Scott - is that wedge you are talking about a Sand Wedge or a Pitching Wedge?



Writer manages life of fantasy and reality
Londoner Scott Bakker blends his world with a world of wonder.
Sandra Coulson, Lifestyles Reporter
London Free Press
2004-07-07



Reality keeps breaking into Scott Bakker's fantasy.
Bakker is the London writer whose fantasy-fiction trilogy The Prince of Nothing was launched last year with The Darkness That Comes Before.

The book received almost unanimously rave reviews from Publishers Weekly, the Guardian, SFX Magazine and other publications.

A young reader from Washington state bought a copy while on a visit to Vancouver -- months before the novel was released in the U.S. -- and was so excited by it that he and a friend have launched a popular fans' website.

The book has been published in Canada, Britain and the U.S. Translation deals opened the Russian, Polish, German and French markets. An agreement in principle is in place for Spanish.

That would be a fantasy come true for any first-time novelist.

Then Bakker committed himself to producing the second book, The Warrior-Prophet, within a year.

He thought a year would be long enough, considering he had the entire trilogy "scribbled out."

But at the same time, he was under a deadline to defend the outline for his PhD dissertation in philosophy at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

And he was teaching pop culture and composition at Fanshawe College.

Oh, and he was planning a wedding to his fiancee, Sharron O'Brien, a counsellor at WIL Counselling and Training for Employment.

Bakker managed one day off all year -- and used it to see another work of fantasy fiction, the Lord of the Rings.

The Warrior-Prophet did get finished, however, and is in bookstores.

It's a work pace that Bakker is used to. In fact, it deserves some credit for the trilogy.

"Grad school teaches you to be a workaholic, so you can't relax and blow off steam -- at least, I couldn't, anyway -- without feeling I was doing something productive," he says.

In his free time over 20 years, he dreamed up the world of the Western Three Seas, including the philosophies, literatures, histories and religions of its diverse nations.

That Tolkien-like detail gave The Darkness That Comes Before an edge among readers and reviewers.

The fantasy-fiction genre has elements that lend themselves to formulaic storytelling: the resolute hero, the dark lord, the medieval-looking setting, an apocalyptic evil, a dragon.

But Bakker gives his books a realistic spin with characters who have quite ordinary flaws.

"I'm more interested in taking human beings, people who suffer all the uncertainties of passion and all the frailties of what it means to be human, and placing them in these epic circumstances," he says.

But he remains fascinated by genre writing. "These formulas have been around literally since storytelling was invented. . . . There's just something really, really human about these," he says.

"There's people who would throw chairs at me for some of this, but I really think in some ways genre is more honest than a lot of what passes for literature. And by honest, I mean it is unreflective primarily because it is commercial. So much of it is written for the express purpose of consumption by masses of readers that it ends up reflecting, unconsciously, a lot of truths about our culture."

He sees fantasy fiction developing a tighter and tighter hold on a contemporary culture that struggles with a loss of wonder in an age of science.

"Fantasy takes all these values rendered irrelevant by post-industrial society and tries to bring them back," Bakker says.

"It's like the thin edge of the wedge for this ongoing, very troubling cultural transformation we find ourselves going through."


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