Nina Allan on William Golding

Award-winning writer, Nina Allan, author of books including The Race and The Rift has written a fascinating post on science fiction. The post is inspired by the recent Backlisted podcast episode which featured Golding’s The Inheritors. Allan discusses the idea of the science fiction canon and celebrates the ‘new and diverse traditions’ of the genre. Based on Una McCormack’s comment in the podcast – that Golding’s The Spire is actually a science fiction novel – Allan read the book, published in 1964, for the first time. She writes

‘The story of The Spire is essentially timeless. Golding’s use of language and the power of his imagination – his vision, inchoate as Jocelin’s – makes it so.’

I love the idea of The Spire as a science fiction novel! Golding’s original design for the book was to have a twentieth-century narrator, and later, for the narrative to move between modern and medieval times. From Golding’s plan, the spire itself would fall sometime in the future. Although he eventually decided against this time travel, it is fascinating to consider in light of McCormack’s assertion. Allan sees The Spire as more of a ‘hallucinatory, arcane view of the speculative’.  The two views are of course not mutually exclusive.

Allan also read Judy Golding’s memoir of her father, The Children of Lovers, which she describes as ‘brave and clear-eyed.’

Related Resources

  • Golding’s biographer, John Carey, writes that Savernake Forest, on the outskirts of Marlborough,Wiltshire, was the inspiration…

  • In The Spire, Pangall and his wife Goody live within the walls of the Cathedral…