Zora's Reviews > The Rift

The Rift by Walter Jon Williams
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's review
Jul 29, 2012

it was ok
Read from July 28 to 29, 2012

A cookie-cutter racist southern sheriff and a cookie-cutter charismatic preacher mar the book, getting too much screen time. With the earth itself falling apart, we really don't need bad guys, and cliched bad guys at that. I quickly began skipping over all their sections, as I already knew what would happen with them. A cookie-cutter President got more interesting when he wigs out in an unusual way. There's a small romance that feels utterly wrong--two kids meet, have no scenes of talk or emotionally connecting, and, bam, they are a couple in love. Huh? With what he provided for us in the way of their getting to know each other, I'd be surprised if they remembered each other's name, much less fell in love.

One character carries around a telescope with him the whole book (if it's light enough to carry, it's probably no bigger than a six inch. It also miraculously doesn't fall out of a boat that tips several times, but whatever.) It gets set up at night and he sees things you'd struggle to see with a ten-inch scope, three hundred dollar eyepieces, and hundred dollar filters. A stranger is able to find these things on a moving boat without so much as a finder scope and paper star chart.(!) Williams misidentifies the Ring Nebula as a supernova remnant. When you know facts about some topic and the author hasn't bothered to look up those facts (and this book was written in the time of the Internet, so looking this up would have been a snap for him), it calls into question every other fact that you have less knowledge of--you suspect he's been just as lazy in looking up earthquake facts or facts about propane fires or nuclear power plants. So none of the book seems realistic to me because he's screwed up some of the science and I therefore doubt the rest.

It's a shame, too, because at the line level, he's a good writer, and the lines flow past painlessly. The initial descriptions of the quake the teen boy sees are very good. The climax shoot-out is well-written. But errors in science and cliched characters make this a 2.5 star read for me.
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