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In short, what we have here is an American-style productivity that could be compared to that of a Robert Silverberg or a Stephen King. In this alone, he can be distinguished from the majority of French sf writers who—apart from those who are under contract with some of the French mass market publishing houses—produce rather little in comparison and are much less diversified. It is, however, not only Serge Brussolo's productivity and multifaceted talents that have captured the attention of sf aficionados in France. If he is enormously successful among French readers—to such an extent that his name has become a sort of byword—it is because his works possess a certain charisma.

These special issues—many of which are next to impossible to find today—contain interviews as well as some of Brussolo's unpublished works. Why this infatuation with Serge Brussolo among French readers? In order to understand Brussolo's success, it is necessary to take a brief look at the evolution of sf in France. More French authors began to write sf, and a loyal French sf readership began to grow.

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Extrapolations about the wonders or horrors of the world as it was evolving toward a post-modern society rapidly gave way to works where French sf authors felt they had to write as they imagined fashionable avant-garde mainstream authors wrote. Their works began to exhibit an exasperating self-centeredness, a pretentiousness, and a tendency toward sheer incomprehensibility. In the final analysis, these narcissistic games succeeded only in alienating the majority of French sf readers, who began to distance themselves systematically from any sf published by French writers.

Brussolo's first sf works displayed his excellent writing skill, and he too showed a great virtuosity in wordplay. It is thus easy to understand how he was able to attract the attention of certain publishers who were influenced by the literary aspects of his early trilogy of short stories entitled Aussi lourd que le vent Heavy as the Wind, However, in retrospect, it is clear that Brussolo's true originality was not simply due to his innovative style. Quite early in his career and beginning with his second novel Sommeil de sang Blood Sleep, —a masterpiece of sf—it became obvious that what made him unique and fascinating was his exploration of an imaginative world so luxuriant that by comparison a jungle would seem as orderly as a chessboard.

His flair for the evocative, his ability to invent images and situations which seem to border on hallucination were literally bewitching. For example, consider a few excerpts drawn from Sommeil de sang :. C'est le sable cannibale Men had dwelt innocently on its surface for centuries, persuaded that they were living on simple asteroids. In its innovative qualities, Brussolo's fictional universe is often reminiscent of Lewis Carroll's.

The Project Gutenberg eBook of Le roman de la rose, by Guillaume de Lorris et Jean de Meung.

Such a comparison, as unlikely as it might seem, is not arbitrary. Like Alice's father, Brussolo's primary interest is to explore dreamlands. He deciphers the rules, then constructs his novels by breaking them. Lewis Carroll inserts his dreamlike stories into the medium of adventure or children's tales—full of nursery rhymes and limericks—and then he plays with the various levels of signified meaning.

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Brussolo inserts his fantasies into the framework of classic sf, which he then blithely subverts for our reading pleasure. In Sommeil de sang , for example, all the ingredients of classic sf are present: on a planet lost in the immensity of space, one witnesses an epic struggle between sedentary urban mine operators and bands of desert nomads. But then Brussolo twists the traditional sf patterns of verisimilitude: here the mines are made of fossilized meat, managed by a corporation of butchers, and the workers therein are vegetarians.

As for the nomads, they cross the deadly acid sands and live on skins which serve as portable oases. These are some of the questions around which the story-line is built, and which leave the reader hesitating between shock and wonder. While resembling, on the surface, pure fantasy rather than classic sf, it is nevertheless an alien sf world that is being described, and the sf references in the story are continually used to advance the plot toward new and surprising encounters.

The similarity suggested above between Brussolo and Lewis Carroll is even more evident in Portrait du diable en chapeau melon Portrait of the Devil in a Derby Hat, The basic premise of this novel is as follows: a number of babies have been left and forgotten in a nursery under the care of cybernetic nursemaids.

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But the years go by and the latter are unaware that the children have now grown up. These robot nannies continue to treat them like babies, transforming their lives into a veritable nightmare. Since these nannies are the sole source of knowledge for these now-grown children, the latter must struggle to interpret the various legends and stories the nannies tell them.

The relationships between language, truth, logic, and illusion are explored in this novel, but in a manner quite different from the fantasy narratives of a Lewis Carroll. Allusions to sf literature and the sf universe are omnipresent, but they are not necessarily articulated in a context of technologically extrapolative or scientific speculation. Brussolo develops them, rather, as part of a poetic process which, far from breaking with the world of traditional sf, serves to regenerate and renew it.

The woman was gigantic. Five meters, maybe six. Against her leg he felt tiny, vulnerable. She corresponded in every way to the stereotypical image that one might have of a nurse, with her immaculate white apron pinned to her. Her huge breasts strained against the silk of her blouse, like two world globes in precarious suspension.

When she leaned over to him, Nath saw these two spheres shift down from the torso of her body, pulled by gravitational attraction. He didn't dare move, and yet these two monstrous mammary glands were hovering over him, giant asteroids of pink flesh ready to crush him, digging craters into the sidewalk at their point of impact When she bent over and stretched out her hand to him, Nath thought he heard a series of hydraulic-sounding hisses Recognizable in this novel is the typical Asimovian theme of the robot-nursemaid. But here their original mission and programming prevent them from realizing that their wards are now adults—which leads to a series of events which are alternatingly humorous, ironic, or tragic.

These robots are neither the tame robots of an Asimov nor the comic robots of a Sheckley. In some ways, they resemble the computer-robot Hal of in that their basic dysfunctionality continually creates the unexpected.

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Another of Brussolo's early sf novels, Carnaval de fer Iron Carnival, , can be read as a simple quest narrative in the form of a forgotten or forbidden pilgrimage. But the stages of this hero's search do not involve ordinary obstacles: the quest quickly tumbles into a kind of orchestrated hallucination. Des robots. Two out of three dancers are robots.

nisosemanu.cf During festivals they capture their prey by holding out their hands to them. Their fingers secrete a sap of such adhesive power that a simple handshake is sufficient to create a permanent dermatological bond! A veritable skin graft!