Fantasist & Futurist
- Nov 23, 2002
This is a story that opens with no infodumps, no explanations - it's a journey of discovery. To begin to recount any part of the plot effectively tells the story, and I wouldn't want to spoil that for anyone.
What I can perhaps say is that it's a literary science fiction novel, about a Christian preacher who has to leave his beloved wife behind to help with something like a first contact situation. And that's as much as I'm saying.
The way it's written is extremely affecting. The whole feeling of other worldliness, the psychology of being isolated from loved ones, the tension that builds up from it all, is brilliantly done and totally got under my skin. Throughout most of my reading I was planning on giving it 5 stars.
But at the end I found that though the reader in my greatly enjoyed it, the writer in me equally hated it - for the simple fact that it felt like the ending was missing. If this was a genre novel, there would be another act to conclude all the tensions - perhaps even a sequel or trilogy to finish the story properly. But this is a standalone novel only, and it felt like it was lacking a proper resolution.
Structural complaints aside, I did find this to be a very interesting and intelligent story - the psychological experience really did envelope me in a way I can't recall any recent novel doing. The Christian preacher was an intelligent and sympathetic character, his situation was filled with believable conflict, and the alien world was one of the better described and engaging ones I've read.
I'm not sure how to compare it - perhaps with the recent film Arrival, but in a less visual and more of a close experience.
In the end, I'm glad I read it and would certainly recommend it for the reading experience. It's simply that the writing critic inside me says there should have been more - the open-ending ultimately left me far more dissatisfied that I wanted.