I really can't complain. This book didn't have any egregious errors. It was a fun, mediocre steampunk adventure thriller. If you're into steampunk advI really can't complain. This book didn't have any egregious errors. It was a fun, mediocre steampunk adventure thriller. If you're into steampunk adventure thrillers with liberal smatterings of clockwork robots, airships, Victorian etiquette, zombies, and Victorian chauvinism, you'll enjoy this quick read. I give it two stars because, while I enjoy all these things, it felt a little paint-by-the-numbers, and nothing stood out as being exceptional....more
**spoiler alert** At first this seems like the sort of dystopian novel one might find as required reading in a high-school: a good read, especially fo**spoiler alert** At first this seems like the sort of dystopian novel one might find as required reading in a high-school: a good read, especially for teenagers, but one with such obvious overtones about belief and conformity as to be almost useless for anybody who's lived through that particularly unfortunate period of adolescence.
I reconsider that position in part, however, because of a small, elegant detail that precedes Wyndham's blatant deus ex machina: our protagonists' savior and hero is at least as awful as their brutally stifling father if not moreso, and it is clear that the land she whisks them away to is going to treat them as savages and simpletons; after all they went through to gain independence from the fundamentalist zealots of their small town, the big city they've always dreamed of is going to relegate them to the corners of society with a terrifying efficiency that their homeland could never imagine.
One wonders how the characters might have dealt with their circumstances had fate not intervened; I frankly can imagine them ending up much better-off, and that alternate journey may have even made for a more gripping read, but Wyndham obviously wanted to get his point across......more
For fans of the post-apocalyptic genre, this book will be a mixed bag. There are lots of interesting ideas, but none that John Crowley didn't do betteFor fans of the post-apocalyptic genre, this book will be a mixed bag. There are lots of interesting ideas, but none that John Crowley didn't do better in his early book _Engine Summer_.
For non-fans, steer clear; the pacing, prose, characterization, dialogue, etc. are all pretty atrocious. ...more
Ok, so there are probably people who will like this book. It has an interesting premise which if you're reading this you probably already know, and doOk, so there are probably people who will like this book. It has an interesting premise which if you're reading this you probably already know, and don't need me to rehash. There are elements of it that I like: a history professor turned villainous warlord setting up shop in the Portland Central Library, the way each group of survivors coalesces around into communities around a different set of virtues, and especially the re-emergence of legend in a world bereft of mass media.
After the initial exposition of the world post-apocalypse, however, the plot is thin, the prose is atrocious, and the characters are so two-dimensional they might get blown over by an Oregon breeze. Stirling doesn't have a subtle bone in his body. By the end of this book I wanted to punch every Wiccan in the face; no matter how much Stirling tried to explain that Wiccans are way less judgmental than everyone else, he still portrayed the only priest as a mouth-frothing witch-hunter.
All in all, yeah, it was ok. If you're a post-apocalyptic geek like me I guess it's worth the time, but only if you're hard-up for a fix....more
**spoiler alert** Lake has, I'll admit, created a wonderfully interesting world, and oftentimes interesting worlds are at the heart of the fantasy/adv**spoiler alert** Lake has, I'll admit, created a wonderfully interesting world, and oftentimes interesting worlds are at the heart of the fantasy/adventure genre. I want to explore it. But not like this.
What Lake seems frustratingly, maddeningly incapable of here is providing us with any reason to care about the people and situations occurring in his interesting world. I don't care if the Mainspring is rewound. I don't care if Hethor dies in the attempt. I don't care if his enemies thwart him, because I have as little reason to dislike them as I have to like Hethor. I don't care about the Chosen People, other than to be mildly repulsed by the seemingly casual racism with which they are portrayed**. I just don't care.
This book was too disappointing too many times. Its premises hit me on a lot of levels: Victoriana, airships, and steampunk? Check. Divides of power along hemispherical lines (otherwise known as imperialism)? Check. Religious/spiritual/magical schisms? God's language? Angels? Checkity check check. I'm even an amateur watch collector for chrissakes. If Lake can't get me into this book, I don't see how anybody could enjoy it.
**Tiny black apes who play drums and make big fires and teach our White scion invaluable lessons about spirituality and love while still regarding him as the leader of their life's quest? Come on. That's pretty repulsive....more
This book was a gift from a friend who knows exactly what I like: characters from fin-de-siecle history, daydreams, Africa as an Idea, subjugation asThis book was a gift from a friend who knows exactly what I like: characters from fin-de-siecle history, daydreams, Africa as an Idea, subjugation as a reality, a dedication to Gordon Lish... I could go on. This book has it all. In fact, when he first gave it to me, I was actually pretty pissed, because I'm trying to write a story that, on the surface, is extremely similar.
Fortunately, aside from the specifics, this book wasn't anything like what I'm writing. It was a little too wistful, a little too comedic, a little too light-weight... The characters were mostly two-dimensional pastiche, and while that's fine for some kinds of novels, the kind that this is should've (it seems to me) been populated with people a little more concrete. I realize that it's an exercise of whimsy, but...I don't know.
These are off-the-cuff impressions, and I'm probably judging this harsher than I normally would because it's so close to exactly what I want to read that when it misses, I feel far more disappointed than if it had just been full of random ideas I don't already have much invested in. So, on the one hand, I can't tell if it was written well or not; on the other hand, I didn't care....more
I had truly loved this book when I was younger, and forgotten both the author and title, and in fact everything about it except that it was a fantasyI had truly loved this book when I was younger, and forgotten both the author and title, and in fact everything about it except that it was a fantasy book in which magic works by poetry (a concept I still believe to be excellent). Unfortunately, little besides the concept has stood the test, not of time, but of age.
I can still see why I liked it so much. It's breezy and action-packed, the main character is honest and self-deprecating despite his new-found magic, and there is a strong system of morality which presents itself as Stasheff opens his world. What I did not notice as a young reader, however, is that Stasheff's system of morality does not simply present itself through his world; like most propaganda, it imposes itself upon the world and upon its readers.
In the land of Merovence, "Good" and "Evil" are not simply two ends of a very long, very complicated spectrum; they are, instead, the only two choices one can make. There is no such thing as a decision that is partially right and partially wrong. It is a world of absolutes. This is fairly standard in most hack fantasy novels, and in most hack fantasy novels I wouldn't fuss to raise a comment. I do not, however, believe Stasheff is a hack fantasy writer. He is a good fantasy writer. He also happens to be a propagandist.
The morality of Stasheff's fiction is absolute not because he couldn't bother an original idea; he could and did. The morality of his fiction is absolute because he made it that way on purpose, and insists on reminding us of it at every opportunity. I find nothing wrong with a sermon, but I do not typically take my sermons with a side of fantasy literature. If you think you might like to, this may be the book for you....more