Review: Heart of Iron


Heart of Iron
by Ekaterina Sedia


2011 • 320 pages • Prime Books

I talk a lot about narrative structure in speculative fiction. Not that it’s not a problem in other genres, but who knew that Britain’s postwar paper shortage would give us so many speculative fiction series that didn’t need to be series? But a separate, although related, problem is narrative heft. In my readings, I have come across many, many stories that either try to stretch out a thin story farther than it can go or, less frequently but more frustrating, attempt to cram too much story into too little words.

I find the latter more frustrating because the fix is simple. In fact, the fix is simple in both cases, but there’s only one where you actually get to indulge yourself. If you have so much story, tell it—don’t compress it.

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The Literary Horizon: Ada, or Ardor, Heart of Iron

Beyond being forced to read Anna Karenina once summer (I retain little to this day, my usual method of coping with things I have to do against my will), I’ve encountered Russia very seldom in my fictional travels. But a surefire way to get me interested in a subject is to approach it through the lens of speculative fiction, which is the reason for today’s selections from my reading list—speculative fiction by Russians and set in Russia… or at least exploring it, in the first case.

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