The Space Opera Renaissance: Paul J. McAuley

Paul J. MacAuley is a British botanist turned science fiction author. It’s interesting to me how many authors did something else first. Most of them are educated in some field – usually one of the sciences, though not always – and worked at other jobs before and sometimes while they were bestselling authors. This probably gives you a realistic view of how much money even bestselling authors make. Most of his stories deal with biology and biotechnology. He was published in the UK long before his novels and short stories made it to the US.

“Recording Angel” is about a culture that is revealed brilliantly in small steps throughout the story. Little secrets become clear and a terrifying history is illuminated. The writing is of that nebulous brilliant quality that makes you willing to read it whatever it says. The story even has some intriguing mysteries that build up to a crescendo that turns into a barrel ride over the Niagara Falls. I don’t understand what happened on the last page of this story. The main character suddenly jumps down a waterfall and becomes Buddha or something. I would read the story for everything up to that point – it’s beautiful. The ending is… certainly original.

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