Settling the World by M. John Harrison
Trade Paperback – Comma Press – Mar 2021 – 271 pages
Throughout his career, M. John Harrison’s writing has defied categorisation, building worlds both unreal and all-too real, overlapping and interlocking with each other. His stories are replete with fissures and portals into parallel dimensions, unidentified countries and lost lands. But more important than the places they point to are the obsessions that drive the people who so believe in them, characters who spend their lives hunting for, and haunted by, clues and maps that speak to the possibility of somewhere else. This selection of stories, drawn from 50 years of writing, bears witness to that desire for difference: whether following backstreet occultists, amateur philosophers, down-and-outs or refugees, we see our relationship with “the other” in microscopic detail, and share in Harrison’s rejection of the idea that the world, or our understanding of it, could ever be settled.