Adrian Graham

Trust book cover, books and skyscrapers


I’ve just finished reading Hernan Diaz’s Trust. I decided to buy the book after listening to an interview the author did with Kelton Reid on The Writer Files.

Trust is a story of wealth, power, and the American Dream. It’s also a story about secrets and discovering the truth. It’s a postmodern novel that comes in four parts: a novel within a novel, a ghostwritten autobiography, a journalistic investigation, and a personal diary. It loses some oomph towards the end, but it’s still a good read. The things that set this novel apart are its intellectual and philosophical underpinnings, the playfulness of using multiple texts, and its accessible prose.

As science fiction becomes fact

For a 1930s audience, Dick Tracy’s futuristic radio phone wrist watch seemed amazing. Now, with mobile devices like the iPhone, that isn’t the case. As technology becomes pervasive, it becomes less interesting.

The same things can happen to stories. As a certain type of story becomes more pervasive it becomes less exciting, until they turn into a cliche.

Stories are places where conversations take place – conversations between characters, between writer and audience. The perceived freshness and relevance of a story is a cultural thing. Culture is always changing. For a time the gangster story captured America. It mirrored American society, a mirror to notions about the city, and the rat race. And then the gangster story fell out of favour.

The western was also popular, representing ideas about landscape and individual freedom. As American society changed these kinds of stories became less relevant places to have a conversation about the American story. Science fiction began as a metaphor for exploring the social and technological possibilities of the industrial world. With Modernism it offered a solution to all of societies challenges. But, later on, science itself became another problem for humanity with the irresponsible use of industrial technologies, pollution, environmental damage, and the smallness of humanity within the larger cosmic reality. Optimism changed to pessimism, celebration to warning.

More recently, with the rise of literary science fiction, can genre science fiction continue to hold its own? What if there are better metaphors to describe our relationship with technology? With AI, for example, old school genre science fiction might not be asking the right questions. Literary fiction or the psychological thriller might be more relevant story form? Increasingly, I see science fiction as ‘historical fiction’ that happens to be set in the future.