I've finished the book, but for the life of me I couldn't tell you exactly what it's about. I suspect I'll have to read it a few more times before I uI've finished the book, but for the life of me I couldn't tell you exactly what it's about. I suspect I'll have to read it a few more times before I understand it thoroughly. On the surface, it's a short collection of loosely connected stories centering around an unusual caste of characters (a woman adventurer/polygamist, a mad scientist, and a shark being a few). The setting is Cinnabar, an eternal city with on a desolate planet. Society in Cinnabar is very technologically advanced. Hardly anybody dies of old age because of the state of medicine, and the city is run by a super AI.
The book is short, but it's almost impossible to fully understand what's going on the first time you read a chapter. Part of that is because the author's writing style is a bit dense and also because the stories are very fragmented. I believe the exercise of the narrative is to take these fragments and construct a whole picture of the city and the underlying story, but I haven't been able to quite do that yet.
It's also a quite sexual book in a casual sort of way. I think this is because everyone in the city is very old with young bodies, so all of their inhibitions have faded away long ago and they don't know what else to do in their spare time. Most of the time I'm not comfortable with overt sexuality in a book, but in this case it didn't really bother me. It's more part of the setting than intentional titillation. Definitely not as bad as Game of Thrones, anyway.
Part of why I think I need to read the book again is because there were a couple parts that absolutely stunned me with how accurately it portrayed human nature. I think one chapter in particular has changed the way I look at life.
Overall, I would recommend this book if you don't mind something out of the ordinary, even for science fiction. It's a short read and the writing is beautiful, if disorienting. But keep in mind that this book is about the city just as much as it is about the characters. You have to understand the city before you can comprehend the characters or the plot. ...more
I can't believe how fast I got through this book. I got to around page 400 and considered stopping again, then the next morning I couldn't put it downI can't believe how fast I got through this book. I got to around page 400 and considered stopping again, then the next morning I couldn't put it down until I was finished. A lot of times I felt like throwing the book across the room because of the suffering the characters have to go through, but on the other hand it made them a lot more sympathetic.
I admit that I rushed through it a bit, and I even skipped a couple of William chapters. That said, almost no other book has made me sit down and read some five hundred pages in the space of several hours. I'm still absorbing everything that happened and how the characters changed (or didn't) over time.
I'll have to read it again, slower this time. I almost gave up when it got depressing, but someone encouraged me to keep going and I'm glad I did. Wow. One of the most unique and special books I've ever read, and by far the best work of historical fiction. I think the best piece of advice that I can give to prospective readers is not to do what I did. Take your time and read slowly, and you'll form even more of an attachment to the characters and the cathedral. ...more