I loved this book. I thought the wordplay was poetic, the settings exotic and surreal, the characters believable, if delusional, and it was topical to...moreI loved this book. I thought the wordplay was poetic, the settings exotic and surreal, the characters believable, if delusional, and it was topical to contemporary social issues, specifically the two-edged sword of contemporary sexual issues -- obsessive desire as relief from world-weariness and the dangers of sexually transmitted disease. At one point a character asks “Is Palimpsest a heaven or a hospital?” The city Palimpsest is a marvelous symbol for contemporary life with its obsessions with pleasure, addiction, and pain.. The poetic language and the fragmented storyline create a definite nonlinear progression, but as the stories of the four major characters searching for each other in two worlds swirl together, the miasmic effect coalesces into a wonderful resolution.(less)
This book is not perfect. It has a lot of early stuff of Zelazny that shows the studential quality that one would expect of any early work. BUT --- it...moreThis book is not perfect. It has a lot of early stuff of Zelazny that shows the studential quality that one would expect of any early work. BUT --- it contains the three wonderful (10 STAR!) early stories that "shaped" Zelazny's style: "A Rose for Ecclesiastes," "The Doors of his Face, the Lamps of His Mouth," and the short novel "He Who Shapes." They are great! -- and it is great to read them within the context of other stuff he was writing at the time.
Also, there are two introductions and a great deal of editor's notes on Zelazny's own opinions of his early writings. Very interesting!(less)
This novel is a wild ride. It starts off chiefly explaining the Sarl people who live in a society that reminded me of the wild west, complete with cat...moreThis novel is a wild ride. It starts off chiefly explaining the Sarl people who live in a society that reminded me of the wild west, complete with cattle rustling (weird space cattle), saloon fights, and the omnipresent question of who's gonna run the ranch (or be the king). It is one of Banks's "Culture" novels and it does quite a lot to explain more about The Culture, for a princess of the royal family of the Sarl was given to The Culture, that conglomerate of "mongrel-utopians", to act in their "Special Circumstances" department. Though she begins this novel by returning to her homeworld, her presence does a lot to explain the way The Culture works.
Like all the "Culture" novels "Matter" is not so much about the Culture as it is about one of the worlds on the periphery of the Culture. And what a world Sursamen is! -- an artificial "Shellworld" composed of levels each with its own type of atmosphere and environment; the Sarl live on Level 8, one of the 2 "land" levels. These Shellworlds were built by a race of beings who are now eons dead. There are thousands of them that compose a circle around the galaxy. Most of them are dead, but about 4 thousand remain active. We get to know Sursamen through the royal family of the Sarl.
Ferbin, a prince of the royal family, is chased offworld, but returns for a "showdown" with the villains of the story. But the last 100 pages are nothing like what I expected them to be. The story goes from its wild west format into a wild journey full of cataclysmic events and long dead artifacts returning to life that kept me on the edge of my seat through what was a really exciting whirlwind adventure. The characters are asked to question their place, not only among the Sarl, but among this magnificent universe in its totality.
Billy Pilgrim is unstuck in time. And it's the best thing to happen to literature since Death kindly stopped for Emily Dickenson. A re-read of this cl...moreBilly Pilgrim is unstuck in time. And it's the best thing to happen to literature since Death kindly stopped for Emily Dickenson. A re-read of this classic is a must to remind me every now and then of the absurdity of existence, and of how hopeful is that very concept.(less)