My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Preamble alert! So in case you didn’t know– I love SF. And many of the authors I “heart” have listed this guy as a serious influence…
and now to my review:
I can see why so many of the preeminent SF writers list Smith’s work as a seminal influence to their own. The ingenuity and scope of Smith’s work is awe-inspiring. That said, the execution itself is often wooden. This is a novel of ideas and thematic virtuosity, rather than one of “unparalleled narrative finesse”.
This is still a book very worthy of looking into; especially Cordwainer’s description of the “pain of space”. When put into historical context, his stories are particularly meaningful — as his work (while being contemporary to the SF of the 40s & 50s) is also decidedly apart. While his contemporaries often assumed that science and exploration would be the great panacea, Smith posits a world in which these instead complicate, de-humanize, nullify, and blur our condition. To stray into the annoying and tedious realm of, shall I say, collegiate English 101, his work was a dialectic in a time of dichotomies.
So, again, and simply put — it is fascinating to read someone whose work so influences many of the “Greats” — but, at the end of the day, the narrative & literary elements were not quite on par with those who took his ideas and really ran with them.
At the end of the day, I found it too easy to put this book down and in the end have set it to the back of my shelf after only reading to page 68. I *do* intend to pick it back up though…