Underlying the whole tale is a question about the rights of individuals and the prejudice people may have about certain groups. It also shows how prejudice is often a result of our preconceived ideas about how people within a certain group behave without really going out and finding out the truth.
When a retired teacher looks after his young grandson, he discovers more than mysterious cones on the beach. The two of them find their deficiencies counterbalance each other making their loving relationship able to combat menacing phenomenon.
There are many other Nayman hilarities. The sentient kitchen, for example, is so possessive that if a human tries to boil an egg ‘it turns the heat up so much you could melt a pavement.’ Science too gets the treatment.…
The balance between character development and plot progression is managed smoothly, along with the thematics, which take the reader through a series of all-too-believable scenarios, chillingly showing how easy it would be for an advanced group of aliens to undermine the human race and have us destroy one another, without the need for any additional weapons or warfare.
Mike French’s Blue Friday is a science fiction that draws on George Orwell’s 1984 to show a society gone mad. Though written in a light-hearted farcical way, the novel takes a hard look at state sanctioned control and the way in which it perverts even the most humanistic of subjects (such as work-life balance and “family values”).
It’s nothing like the aching devastation witnessed in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road—to some extent it’s still life as usual in dust-choked Pueblo—but The Bird Saviors might well depict the early days of Cormac’s bleak and terminal catastrophe.
As fans of the earlier ARNS books would expect there are zany inventions and what-ifs that strangely are just an extension to the logic and practice of what happens already. So many times, I read something Nayman invents and think – so obvious, why hasn’t it already been done? Why haven’t I thought of it first?
Somehow the Steampunk aesthetic, whether it be a fondness for clockwork devices or an interest in dressing up in cravats and corsets, has extended to other areas of culture too – and the authors cover these also. They even compare Steampunk to Surrealism at one point, which strikes me as absurd: Surrealism was much more radical, an hard-edged beast.
These stories are stupendously good and offer many distinct pleasures: a strange yet superbly realised world, compelling characters and, above all, beautiful prose that has the power to move. One of those characters mentions of her lover’s failings that ‘he could not realize how all women are, in one way or another, “her kind” [i.e. a witch], even his dear departed mother.’ And that could be a coda for the book.
Embassytown may start like a fun, inventive good novel, but by the time you reach the 300th or so page, it become clear that this is indeed a great novel. Rich with nuance, meaning, and power that never comprises the overall fictive dream, or even the pure fun of its fictional world, this is a novel to read, re-read, and then re-read again.