The essence of a truly null-Earth logic may never be as clearly defined as in this novel-length package of interplanetary surprises. Ride The Wormway To No-Wonderland. Consider this marooned astronaut. His spaceship and supplies are swallowed in one gulp by something from beneath the featureless plain of an unknown world. The natives are not hostile but incurious. He fathers a child without ever touching the mother. It's when he does physically create his true offspring that he gets his most startling surprise.
©1974 Neal Barret Jr. (P)2014 David N. WIlson
I read the publisher's summary for this and it sounded bad but a friend promised me it was good and worth the read and I'm glad I took their advice. The summary is not wrong in what the book is about but it makes it sound... awful. And it isn't.
The book opens with Andrew as the only survivor of some sort of interstellar accident. He got to his life pod and his life pod got him to this planet. From there it covers his adventures on the planet as he discovers about the planet and its population, revealing more and more of the planet right up until a nice climax.
The book itself is a slow burn and a bit difficult to go through in the first half. It has no real narrative drive, in that Andrew just ambles about from one thing to the next without any real overarching reason. This to me was possibly the biggest problem with the book and if it wasn't so short I may have been inclined to give it up. but I'm glad I didn't. Andrew doesn't really have a "I want to leave this planet" drive, or have a mission, like John Carter in Princess of Mars does (another "thrown onto a strange world" book that actually does have a narrative drive). he has curiosity that keeps him going, and I guess that is what kept me going. Curious as what the world was like. And also the snarky humour, which I always enjoy.
The world itself is interesting. The aliens are humanoid, but not straight "earth like creatures" that you sometimes see. while reading through the aliens actually had an otherworldly feel to them. While different they reminded me in some ways of the Piggies from Speak For The Dead and in other ways of the alien in Solaris. As more and more is revealed (the first half is a bit of a slog to get through) about the world it gets more and more interesting.
The narration was really good. Each character has distinct voices and characteristics. The story was clear and carried well. The snarky humour was also conveyed well by the narrator.
Overall, thoroughly enjoyable.
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