Saturday, June 20, 2009

Supernatural Space Opera

So I finally finished The Reality Dysfunction. I've had last night and most of this morning to digest the experience, and I'm still hedging on it. First, the caveat. I've never read any 'good' science fiction before, aside from the kind of dystopian things one reads in high school literature classes (e.g. Huxley's Brave New World). So, my impressions here will be those of someone relatively new to the experience.

There are elements of potential negativity for some readers. Hamilton's descriptiveness reminds me of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. In his descriptions, Hamilton seems to have a fixation with units of measure (metric, of course). Moreover, the exercise in assimilation that this book demands is higher than most. I'm not sure I would use the term 'info-dump' to define it, but it's as close as I can come. At nearly 1100 pages, it is a very long set-up to a trilogy. The characterization starts out two-dimensional and improves a little further into the story, but I found only one compelling character. To be clear, only the length got to me. After 1100 pages, I thought the plot would be more developed.

I really liked this book though. The direction of the overall story has me very curious, interested and filled with anticipation. We have a science fiction tale, trending it's way across issues of a supernatural, or metaphysical, nature. There is a dash of horror, and a smattering of fantasy, thrown in as well. The technology presented throughout the story seems plausible and accurate. I had no difficulty in suspending disbelief. While The Reality Dysfunction may have dragged a bit for me, I am still thinking about different elements of the story throughout the day. In holding my attention like this, post-read, I can only conclude that it was good. I fully expect the remaining installments of this trilogy to intensify my level of engagement.

In the spirit of last night's awards (The David Gemmell - Legend Award), I'm reading Legend by Gemmell. Congratulations to the finalists, especially the winner, Andrzej Sapkowski for his winning efforts on Blood of Elves.


Sarah said...

I've never read much sci fi but I've really been wanting to explore the genre recently. I've had this book recommended to me about a trillion times (okay, exaggeration). Anyway, I enjoyed your honest review. I plan on picking this book up from the library in the morning. We'll see how I feel about it... :)

PeterWilliam said...

It's funny you should say so, as I'm contemplating starting book 2 in this series. While I've been saying this for a couple of months, I may actually start book w in the next week or so.

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