Magdelanye's Reviews > The Sky So Big and Black

The Sky So Big and Black by John Barnes
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's review
Jul 19, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: sci-fi
Recommended for: conspiracy theorists,students of consciousness
Read from July 11 to 17, 2011

It occassionally happens that a clever ending redeems for me a fairly pedestrian book.
The Sky so Big and Black is a rambling, incredibly detailed story of human life on the Mars colony established by 4 waves of refugees from the conflicts and devestation on Earth in the latter part of our new century. In other words, the backstory is the main story, and the book is really a prophecy in disguise.
A favorite patient has contacted her old shrink signalling an emergency of some sort. Barnes uses the technique of having the main character revealed only through taped transcriptions of their earlier interviews, so all her remarks are addressed to Doc. Personally, I am not fond of this method,finding it a bit static, preferring to get directly inside the characters head. Almost the entire book is taken up with this review, the real time episodes consisting of the alcoholic ramblings of the old Doc, with many detours and asides about life on Earth and the end of civilization there.
Barnes also has the fairly irritating habit, which I find puzzling and coy, of assuming the reader already knows the slang, essentially leaving us to figure out what the heck he is talking about, interspersed with plodding and methodical decriptions of procedures and things that don't exist.
Somehow, and this is hard to describe without spoilers, a thread that runs throught he entire book,is pulled out and the whole tone of the book shifts. Just as the narrator comes to awareness, so we do get the story in focus.
In the end, I am left with a fond impression of the life of a roundichi and a sharper awareness of some fuzzy areas in my understanding of certain concepts. Food for thought, so ultimately worth the plodding pace. A book for rereading.

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Reading Progress

07/12/2011 page 89
28.0% "Conscious thoughts are indices of deeper internal states. So thinking I'm good at what I do is an index. Is this particular index an observation, a delusion, or a symptom? p15"
07/13/2011 page 120
38.0% "If you won't put yourself to some trouble about it, it's not a principle, it's just a comforting slogan...p62"
07/17/2011 page 268
84.0% "You tell a kid that she's not allowed to be any value and sure, she'll satrt smashing things just to prove she's there."

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