Looking forward to Volume II of the Wakeful Wanderer series
It star ratings were more nuanced or animated, I would give this book an accelerating threeLooking forward to Volume II of the Wakeful Wanderer series
It star ratings were more nuanced or animated, I would give this book an accelerating three stars building momentum to slam its way into five stars.
Having cut my singer-songwriter teeth in Boston in the late 90s, Jim and his Big Ego (the band) were known to me and any other wannabe who had their sites on making something approximating a living as a creative. He was a songwriter’s songwriter — someone we respected for his commitment to the craft. I never knew him personally, but I can’t claim an unbiased review as I SO want this to be an amazing ride for Jim.
As a novel, this book represents a solid if imperfect first attempt that has left me curious to learn more about this future crash-and-burn world and the augmented humans who inhabit it. The story takes its time unraveling, leaving me a little impatient especially in the early sections.
For me, I’m so glad to see someone explore the implications of Merit — this concept Jim has conceived of what a post-monetary economy look like and how it would work. This is an important idea that needs to be explored more deeply. For this reason alone, this novel is a worthwhile read.
For those fellow Neal Stephenson fans out there who revel in his 800+-page tomes, Jim’s writing is not quite there. But it’s a strong start to a deeper exploration. I’m interested enough in where this is going that I apparently just became the first person to support his Patreon page as he works on the series. I pledged $1.23 a month. Not much of anything, but if enough fans chip in a bit, we will get another novel sooner than later.
Some particulars that work well: — There is nothing salacious in this novel. There are more sex-implying scenes than sex scenes. Just enough to get the point and tenor of it without being needlessly voyeuristic about it. I’m not a prude, but I do appreciate when the writing focuses on what is necessary for the story instead of pandering for attention. — The writing is solid and clear. This is especially important in a sci-fi work that introduces new concepts like thexting (thought-driven messaging), Merit (point-based economy driven by need/desire-based giving and thanking), and human augmentation (both genetic and robotic). — The context is compelling. This future world depicts a devolved but reimagined human social construct recovering from climate change and total economic collapse. Tribalism has taken root and we learn how these very different social structures either struggle to coexist or decimate the other. These are subjects that are, unfortunately, worth exploring now more than ever. — The characters are well defined. I found myself understanding Marto’s head well enough to care about him. That’s definitely the most important achievement a writer hopes to attain for their central character.
Somethings that could work better: – As I mentioned before, I found the pacing a little sluggish in the first hundred pages. It’s understandable as there was a lot to explain and a barely recognizable world to describe. While I appreciate Jim’s attempt to keep his writing spare and simple, I do think I would’ve enjoyed the ride a little bit more with some more colorful descriptions and action based explorations of this world. — I’ve seen a number of novels use the mechanism of a Guidebook or historical reference to provide context for a new and unfamiliar world. If I were crafting this story, I think I would’ve tried to create a more entertaining voice for this narrative. As a travel writer, Marto is so careful and gentle in his writing. I would think that his readers would want him to be funnier and maybe a little goofier or opinionated. — Overall, I could have used a little more humor in the read. It would make the darker moments seem darker to have laughed a few times.
Overall, I’m impressed with this first novel. It is a brave thing to invest so much in a single piece of work that requires a stranger to commit hours of their attention to a single thread. This book lays the foundation for a compelling series. I’d recommend that Jim create the next one with a postscript explainer or synopsis of the first novel so someone could jump right in at the second one. I know it’s going to be even better and I don’t want folks to miss it!...more