Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Stations of the tide

I think I missed something in this book. It's by Michael Swanwick, of whose books I've read Vacuum Flowers (many years ago) and The Iron Dragon's Daughter (quite recently), both of which blew me away. The subtlety and complexity of the concepts and world building was astounding in those two novels, and so I had high expectations. While it was interesting, it seemed like it was trying to jump a few too many genre boundaries, and never really went anywhere. This reviewer covers my feelings about it pretty well; I think the author of that book had a bit more of an idea of what was going on than I did. And now that I've read the spoiler-laden interpretation that is linked to from that review, I see that there's whole layers of meaning in there that I did completely miss, largely because it references things I've not been educated in. I've always been pretty poor at picking up on symbolism in literature (and people who've run roleplaying games with religious themes are often exasperated by my overly literal mind). I think it's part and parcel of my atheist upbringing and particularly of my having degree in mathematics. Math, while it's all about symbols and representation, is also about clarity of definition and structured, logical thought, which while generally useful, does at times tend to hinder one.

Well, it appears I ramble. I expected more of this book, and would only recommend it if you're into this sort of thing. I know that next time I read one of Swanwick's books I'll do so a lot more carefully.

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