Though a winner of the Philip K. Dick Award in 2012, Brian Francis Slattery's literary science fiction has thus far been "under the radar" within wider SF circles. I think this is a mistake, if not because Slattery is an exceptional writer, then certainly because Slattery's work speaks to our present in a way that so few writers today have shown (or the other way around). For this reason, I've selected Slattery as the first author in my SFF Reappraisals feature.
So, without further ado...
As a literary stylist, Slattery is perhaps best thought of as SFF's Cormac McCarthy, though even that is a limited comparison. There's a distinctly "southern" feel to some of his work, which either comes from personal history or literary allusion. Lost Everything, for example, bears the traces of Faulkner in its examination of a post-climate change America, and may even have the characteristic dark wit for which Faulkner seems to have been divested of as generations of students become increasingly removed from the Great Depression. One might also see parallels to Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn, though not so much in plot as in its allusions, which are, at times, clearly reminiscent of Civil War Era literature.
The appearance of literary mimicry gives Slattery's work a certain gravitas that I find compelling. What on the surface appears to be a simple narrative canvas quickly becomes a complicated foray into the lives of very real, sometimes very strange or unique people. Spaceman Blues is, on the surface, a simple mythic retelling, but it is also a love story which revels in and interrogates SFF's narrative traditions; Lost Everything is another climate change dystopia, but it is also mythic in scope and so closely focused on the everyday lives of those trying to survive that it transcends -- even reduces to mythic monstrosity -- its dystopian setting: it is about people, not the end of the world.
If you're a fan of Cormac McCarthy, Paul Park, or William Faulkner, you'll certainly enjoy Brian Francis Slattery's work.
I have written two reviews of Slattery's work (Spaceman Blues and Lost Everything), and he has made one appearance on The Skiffy and Fanty Show. Slattery also writes short fiction, most of which is available via online venues. They are linked on his website.
This post was suggested by Paul Weimer as one of his patron rewards on my Patreon page. You can have a say in the content for this website, too, by becoming a patron.
*Which I have not read.