Monday, February 23, 2009


I have given up reading this.
I'm afraid I don't have much good to say about this book. It seems to me highly experimental, and failed whatever experiments the author thought to run.
a) It is written as a series of first person memoirs, and because there is no one leading character throughout the novel, rather a series of characters over several generations of a family, provides a choppy, discontinuous experience. The first person, letter-writing style also serves to make things incredibly boring by recounting lots of character minutiae, which OK when building a central character in a novel, is just a waste of space when the novel carries over multiple generations.
b) The author decided to try a literature special effect of changing the way words are spelt more and more as the novel progresses, presumably to add some sort of future times feel. It was just annoying. crack -> crak; towing -> towin; (the final n replaced by a weird backward, almost n) are some examples. Distracting and pointless.

The novel is based around a technology which, to me, is clearly absurd. It postulates winged planes flying into space because they leverage a magnetohydrodynamic technology. This technology has a strong magnetic field across an electrically conducting fluid causing a force on that fluid. This is the technology the silent sub in The Hunt for Red October used, where the conducting fluid is seawater. This was at least feasible, some company at least making this sort-of work in the real world to achieve 15km/h. This novel pretends that a plane could leverage this effect using the Earth's weak magnetic field and "[electric] pulses of lightning strike intensity through the wings." Shyeah, right! Even if you allow a novel one preposterous technology to base a story on, this is ridiculous.

Overall, the page to page text was just plain boring, and I found myself speed reading, then skimming, then straight out skipping wads of pages.

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