Sunday, July 29, 2018

Somerville writer Shariann Lewitt: A Darkly Clad Scribe of Science Fiction

Somerville writer Shariann Lewit at Remnant Brewing

Somerville writer Shariann Lewitt: A Darkly Clad Scribe of Science Fiction

By Doug Holder

A darkly clad figure with long black braids—loomed outside the Remnant Brewery at the new Bow St. Market in Union Square. I approached her—she smiled and joined me at my well—appointed table that had a handsome view of the market's courtyard. My guest this afternoon was Shariann Lewitt, a prolific creative writer—who works in a number of genres. Her writing includes, but is not limited to: literary science fiction, young adult fiction, and military science fiction. For years Lewitt has taught writing at MIT. Lewitt lives with her husband in the Highland Ave area of Somerville, that is in walking distance to Union Square.

Lewitt told me she came to the “ Paris of New England” from Washington, DC in July of 2000. She is enthusiastic about the city stating, “ I love it in Somerville. We own our own home, the Board of Alderman is fabulous—I like the mayor. Somerville has great energy.” But not everything is a bed of roses for this writer. She reflected, “ I am also concerned about the lack of affordable housing, and how the diversity and uniqueness of the city is likely to suffer.”

Hewitt has not been stingy with her writing. Under the pseudonym Nina Harper she wrote two books: Succubus in the City and Succubus takes Manhattan. Both deal with a fashionable, urbane and seductive woman who is an agent—not for an upscale real estate agency-- but for the devil. This woman lures often boorish men into a sexual liaisons, and after the deed is done she leads them to an even hotter destiny—Hades itself.

Lewitt describes her work as speculative fiction—meaning science fiction or generally fiction that does not deal with the here and now. She has written in the genres of military science fiction that specifically deal with intergalactic wars. She also has written space operas. According to the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction this genre consists of “colorful and dramatic stories ( sometimes melodramatic—like –well-- a TV soap opera) that deal with interplanetary or intergalactic conflict.” Lewitt has taken a hiatus from publishing—but has expressed an interest in more historical writing rather than speculative.

Lewitt, who graduated from Yale Drama, was first published at the tender age of 23. She /had a number of early influences, like the iconic science fiction writer Philip K. Dick—whose work inspired the movie Blade Runner. She also considers folks like Samuel R. Delaney as influences as well.
Lewitt told me, “ Although these guys were sexist in their writing I still admire their work. I mean they were coming up in the 50s and 60s and this was the status quo back then. Of course I don't endorse that sensibility.”

The writer told me she love teaching at MIT. She is the recipient of the university's Levitan Award for excellence in teaching. It is presented by the School of Humanity Arts and Social Sciences. And to her credit she was nominated by students.­

After our chat I separated from this dark figure and headed away from the wilds of Union Square. I looked behind me and saw her black hat bob up and down in the wind like a brimmed omen of yet more fiction yet to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment