When inner space mattered 

click to enlarge 1183402.jpg

Before Star Wars ruined everything for science fiction by introducing to the general public a fallen Republic, which J.G. Ballard aptly called “Hobbits in Space,” there was a short-lived literary movement referred to as the New Wave (really just a ripple) that took inspiration from the pataphysics of Alfred Jarry and the cinema of Godard. Working within the tropes of “soft” rather than “hard” sci-fi, writers like Roger Zelazny, Thomas M. Disch, and Ballard endeavored to explore inner instead of outer space. With concentrated experimentation and employing self-consciously allegorical tones, they set out to write the genre for adults, but mainly just ended up writing for depressed and debauched guys: rocket ships were replaced by low-flying aircraft, and the mad scientist gave way to the detached doctor.

Cut to Pamela Zoline in 1969, a young artist painting fauvist angels and writing about entropy as if it were the first phase of a Tupperware party. “Gum drops and melted ice cream surge off paper plates, making holes in the paper tablecloth through the printed roses. A fly has died a splendid death in a pool of strawberry ice cream. Wet jelly beans stain all they touch, finally becoming themselves colorless, opaque like flocks of tamed or sleeping maggots.”

In Zoline’s only collection, The Heat Death of the Universe and Other Stories, comprised of five stories written over the course of two decades, aficionados of this dissolving inner-space genre — which can usually be described as architects getting into auto crashes — are witness instead to weeping robots, masks of Shakespeare as cereal-box art, and the terrifyingly logical phenomena of children being stolen and relocated around the globe in a humanitarian prophylactic guarding against the potential ravages of nuclear war. If The Heat Death of the Universe has trouble finding footing in the historical footnote that was the New Wave, the seductive caution of its prose absolutely prefigures films like Safe and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. New Wave soon gave way to Cyberpunk, which soon gave way to many Keanu Reeves movies.


The Heat Death of the Universe and Other Stories

By Pamela Zoline
McPherson & Company
204 pages

We’re keeping you informed…
...and it’s what we love to do. From local politics and culture to national news that hits close to home, San Antonio Current has been keeping San Antonio informed for years.

It’s never been more important to support local news sources. A free press means accountability and a well-informed public, and we want to keep our unique and independent reporting available for many, many years to come.

If quality journalism is important to you, please consider a donation to San Antonio Current. Every reader contribution is valuable and so appreciated, and goes directly to support our coverage of critical issues and neighborhood culture. Thank you.




Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

© 2020 San Antonio Current

Website powered by Foundation