Steinbeck the SF writer

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I just read the first chapter of East of Eden—yes, Classics Clubbers, I'm grateful for the extra reading time this time around—and to me it read like science fiction. The world-building in that chapter, with its careful portrait of the seasonal and climatic cycles of the Salinas Valley, is wonderful and beautiful. Especially this paragraph:

The floor of the Salinas Valley, between the ranges and below the foothills, is level because this valley used to be the bottom of a hundred-mile inlet from the sea. The river mouth at Moss Landing was centuries ago the entrance to this long inland water. Once, fifty miles down the valley, my father bored a well. The drill came up first with topsoil and then with gravel and then with white sea sand full of shells and even pieces of whalebone. There were twenty feet of sand and then black earth again, and even a piece of redwood, that imperishable wood that does not rot. Before the inland sea the valley must have been a forest. And those things had happened right under our feet. And it seemed to me sometimes at night that I could feel both the sea and the redwood forest before it.
Rarely does a "mundane" novel give you that sense of deep time. I am delighted, and eager to continue.
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William Shunn

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on April 1, 2006 10:52 AM.

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