zxvasdf's Reviews > Empty Space: A Haunting

Empty Space by M. John Harrison
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it was amazing
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In his blogs, Harrison often states that the act of writing is a quest for identity, a means for him to understand himself in this world. So, Empty Space essentially is the psyche of Harrison himself, laid out as visceral as neon entrails left in the garden at dusk. He crafts tantalizing clues, slight references to inspirations, influences, and secret obsessions. A viewpoint is rehashed out between multiple characters, and the emergent property is of disassociation.

Everyone's trying to find themselves a place in this world, from the codependent mona, the twink out assistant who drapes herself with names to be discarded with the necessity of a woman in a fitting room, the man at the edge of empty space in the face of the K-tract speaking with an alien voice in the void. Code as person, spread out in a pre-programmed routine gives opinions and remembers something stainless steel reflecting neon pink and green when it sleeps for the last time. A thin man who eats his anxieties like a fat man, and the man who walks through walls in estrangement with the love of his life. The great physicist's ex-wife who finds herself by becoming lost. A rocket captain coming unmoored from herself in the face of death. And life.

These vectors cross, echo away, and return in a tangled knot at the conclusion of Empty Space. You finish reading, your head buzzing, and you turn to pick up your copy of Light. You see dangling threads demanding to be connected by your yearning mind, little clues that fluoresce from Light, and Nova Swing. You get the feel you're not seeing the big picture just yet, that the narrative exists at a higher scale Harrison rewards the most diligent of readers.

For his biggest fans, Empty Space builds a void within, complete and entirely sucking when the final page is consumed. The worlds of New Venusport, Old Earth, and the tales of the boys from Earth are lit, knocking about in your head. And there's nothing more. And you think, "Hey, the Reborn Men of Viriconium sound familiar..."
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Reading Progress

June 24, 2012 – Shelved
August 5, 2012 – Started Reading
August 10, 2012 – Finished Reading
August 12, 2012 – Shelved as: favorites

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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Kyle Muntz I ordered a copy of this (was hoping to start it the day it came out) but then somehow amazon already doesn't have it in stock.


zxvasdf Wow. I got it originally through the UK branch but they messed up my CC card info, so the USA Amazon came through. It took a little too long for my taste to arrive, but I had that lovely Angela Carter book you recommended...

So far, it's great, just what you would expect from Harrison. It's good to be back in New Saudade


Kyle Muntz I recently reread Light, and I was thinking of rereading Nova Swing as well. Then again, I'm not sure if I want to wait, as I was hoping to write a pretty in-depth review early on in the hope of maybe getting a few more people to check Empty Space out.

Glad again that you enjoyed the Angela Carter book! Now that I think of it, I probably enjoyed it for a lot of the same reasons I enjoy Harrison, though she's easily the more debauched of the two.


zxvasdf It might be wishful thinking, but the last few books I've read seem like they could have been very influential to Harrison in regards to his style and subject matter... (Schismatrix, Roadside Picnic, Dr Hoffman. And minor non-spoiler, I promise, there's even a centaur mention in Empty Space).

She reads like a more coherent Burroughs, and I can't help but wonder if the book's an allegory of sorts, about certain people of the period that she knew, admired, and/or disliked. I especially enjoyed the Count's anarchic spirit.


message 5: by Kyle (last edited Aug 12, 2012 01:43PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kyle Muntz Great review as well. You beat me to it! It's fantastic that this one didn't disappoint.


zxvasdf It's good you just read Light because I just finished it, and am re-reading Empty Space. I think I should read Nova Swing as well, but I wanted to get into Empty Space while Light was still fresh in my mind. Empty Space actually uses passages from Light and uses a similar technique (probably from Nova Swing as well) so the cumulative effect is something resembling an echo.

I read that Harrison is a fan of van Vogt, and it's funny because van vogt is either admired or reviled. It depends on who you are, I guess. Anyways, van Vogt's known to write about what they call temporal conundra, in which the narrative becomes a puzzle with the use of Time Travel. Sound familiar? I think what Harrison is doing here, is pushing that envelope to encompass the entire trilogy.

A bigger story is waiting there to be discovered in the gaps.


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