THIS is Australian fantasy! Influenced by our colonial history and Indigenous peoples (see what the author did there?), this is familiar yet differentTHIS is Australian fantasy! Influenced by our colonial history and Indigenous peoples (see what the author did there?), this is familiar yet different enough to be intriguing. In this world, the Aboriginal peoples' sense of relationship to the land is visible in the Indijines rockskin, a layer of rock-like formation on their arms and backs of their hands, that allows them to sense the earth ("the Stone Body")and all that walks upon it. I'm not sure how comfortable I feel with the swapping of skin tones, between colonisers and colonised. Whilst turning the Indijinies pale allowed the heroine, Fox, to be ostensibly white, and the antagonists of the piece to be black (albeit with long blonde hair in Whilomena's case; my mind boggles every time I try to picture her, what with all the mentions of how DARK the Companionaris' skin is, and her "golden, wheat-like" tresses), this is not such a happy continuance of the fantasy trope of the pale-skinned Good Guys and dark-skinned Bad Guys.
As colonial fantasy, this is also quite dark; there's racism and unaddressed prejudice here, hints of genocide, a bureaucracy hiding behind talk that resembles "lifestyle choices" malarkey, poverty and a class system that people try to pretend doesn't exist. I'm very excited to see where this series goes....more
This is Jasper Fforde. That means it's silly, not necessarily groundbreaking, but certainly satirical, dark-edged, referential and post-modern in waysThis is Jasper Fforde. That means it's silly, not necessarily groundbreaking, but certainly satirical, dark-edged, referential and post-modern in ways that will only work if you're capable of tripping lightly along in his wake, enjoying the view and grinning wryly at the social commentary and broader themes he's sketching on the horizon for you.
I always find the start of a new Fforde novel a bit like that first dive into cold water on a warm day. It's shocking and disorientating, especially at first, so you just have to close your eyes, keep going, and soon you find you're getting along so well in this new environment that you feel comfortable with it, even with those shadowy depths beneath you that you do not yet know anything about, and may never know. Like those watery spaces filled with possible fish, Fforde always conveys a sense of a fully realised world ticking away behind the main action and that's certainly true in the whimsical, frightening world of Eddie Russett, when he find himself confronted by a man who's wrong-spotted, somewhere in the middle of a plot that turns out to involve the government and society as a whole. As Eddie stumbles about uncovering more of the truth about his world, we're dragged along too, catching the same puzzle-pieced conversations and bits of information about just what's going on.
Fforde does tend towards stereotypes as support characters, but his dyads of protagonists do include tough, nuanced and interesting women, which always works for me, too. Jane is no exception, and the relationship between her and Eddie owes a lot to the noir genre, where the woman holds the knowledge necessary for the clueless male to fully realise what's going on. I enjoy this, though I think the characterisation worked better when we were viewing the story from the woman's perspective (as in Thursday Next's arc) rather than as a guy seeing a woman as (yet again) a total cypher....more
This book is an amazing exploration of the ramifications of time travel when the time traveller is NOT white, male, and moving forwards that also explThis book is an amazing exploration of the ramifications of time travel when the time traveller is NOT white, male, and moving forwards that also explores the racism of 'modern' (70s, for the novel) Western society; specifically, the US....more
Seriously problematic. I started out thinking the author was going to question the sexist stereotypes around female competition, and the book ended upSeriously problematic. I started out thinking the author was going to question the sexist stereotypes around female competition, and the book ended up being an argument for why women "need" to be socialised "just like boys" more....more