My apologies for the disjointed nature of this review. I’m really tired.
– this is a very talky book, with some dwelling upon metaphysics. It doesn’t contain any scifi blasting action.
– the Reveal is simply this: that the entire book is just setup for the rest of the Childe Cycle. And as such….it feels like a cheat when read on its own.
– while some of the plot devices and twists are explained in the grand reveal at the end…they are explained without being put to good use.
– an off-putting protagonist–arrogant, sure; but someone with an instinctive sense of rightness needs to have that confirmed now and again. It is confirmed–but not until the end.
– Still, Formain is very identifiable, *cough* at least to *cough*:
“It was extremely difficult for him to add two and two and get four. It was exceedingly simple and natural for him to contemplate two by itself, as an isolated element, and find four as an implied, characteristic possibility of it.
He looked out on all existence through a window that revealed only unique elements. He approached everything in terms of isolates. Isolates and their implied possibilities of characteristics. All time, for example, was implied in any single moment that he might choose to examine. But the moment itself was unique and unalterably separated from any other moment, even though the other moment also implied all of time.”
– Plot: a man discovers himself…literally. And…um, that’s almost about all.
– Characters: meh. (OK, I typed that as “men,” twice. I think my subconscious identity may be trying to express an opinion)
– standout scenes: Formain’s journey from the cold locker where his new body was stored, to his place at the final confrontation–without thawing out first. The Reveal that Central Complex is real, is intelligent, and takes its position not as an enemy, but a guardian of humanity. An unimaginitive hack (James Cameron. Joss Whedon. Jar Jar Abrams.) would have made CenCom a one-dimensional computer who wants to destroy humanity-villain, because computer.
– I’ve read so much Dickson that it’s like hearing an old friend’s voice after a long time. And he’s a guy who can tell the best kind of stories, you know? He can tell funny ones, sad ones, scary ones, and ones that make you cry and think at the same time. And all the stories you tell have an echo of his voice in them, continuing on down.
Rated: Four for Dorsai!