It’s Sci-Fi Month, courtesy of Rinn Reads and Over the Effing Rainbow! If you want to get involved, you can check out the details here. Today I wanted to discuss a recent book I read that blurs the line between contemporary and sci-fi: Landline by Rainbow Rowell.
To me, Rainbow Rowell is a fantastic writer. She really excels at dialogue and building very interesting characters. I recently saw Rowell on a panel during NerdCon, and she talked a little bit about how a lot of herself is in her stories, which may be why they feel so realistic. That, and the majority (Carry On now excluded) are contemporary works of fiction. Landline toes the line though: its major conceit is a landline phone that allows the main character to speak with her husband from the past.
Admittedly, Landline isn’t my favorite story of Rowell’s. It might be my least, though I still would give it 3/5. I felt too wrapped into the head of Georgie, who has decided to stay in LA to work on her tv show while her family goes to Nebraska for Christmas. I’ve never read a story from the perspective of such a chaotic mess of a character. Seriously, this grown woman has to borrow her mother’s clothes because she can’t be bothered to go home and change. One desperate night after her cell dies for the 1,000 time, she tries using the landline phone at her parent’s house to get a hold of her hubby and it connects her to Neal from before they were married.
The whole plot really hinges on this one concept, a time traveling phone. There’s no explanation as to why this particular phone connects her to young Neal, but it does. It is undoubtedly written as a contemporary novel first and foremost, but then BAM! there’s a time travel phone that makes it kind of science fiction. Ish. Science-fiction-ish.
I have read a few books that blur between sci-fi and fantasy, but never sci-fi and contemporary. How do you classify this book? It probably is too much on the realistic fiction side to really appeal to speculative fiction lovers. I also feel like if I was to recommend this to someone looking for a contemporary story, I would but a big asterisk on it.
The big “ah-ha” of the book is related to the time travel paradox. View Spoiler »Young Neal only decided to propose to Georgie in the past because modern-day Georgie had called him when they broke up. Time paradox! « Hide Spoiler I actually appreciated this, but it was very down-played.
Maybe this isn’t much of a question, after all. I wonder if there are there many other books that use some sci-fi elements to enhance or enable their plot, but don’t actually focus on incorporating sci-fi into the rest of the world. I have a hard time telling if this made the story better, or any worse. On one hand, it brought up some interesting questions about relationships (can you be the same people for each other after years together? Is that initial love stage version of you the be-all?). On the other though, I really was hoping for a bit more explanation on why there is a phone that allows you to traverse time.
I might have been phoning this one in guys… (harhar) What do you think about genre bending stories that blur real and speculative elements? Have you read any? If you had a phone that could call back in time, who would you speak to?