Unexceptional in all regards: tedious and unexotic (2/5)
From May 2, 2009
"...the "world next
door"--the planet engineered by the mysterious Hypotheticals to support
human life, and connected to Earth by way of the Arch that towers
hundreds of miles over the Indian Ocean. Humans are colonizing this new
world--and, predictably, fiercely exploiting its resources, chiefly
large deposits of oil in the western deserts of the continent of
Equatoria. Lise Adams is a young woman attempting to uncover the
mystery of her father's disappearance ten years earlier. Turk Findley
is an ex-sailor and sometimes-drifter. They come together when an infall
of cometary dust seeds the planet with tiny remnant Hypothetical
machines. Soon, this seemingly hospitable world will become very alien
indeed--as the nature of time is once again twisted, by entities
The novel proved
to be a quick read as it contains limited simple characters, limited
locations on the New World and a simple, linear plot. In those regards,
the novel is fairly blasé, hardly a worthy sequel to an award-winning
novel. The only engaging aspect of this novel is the residue of mystery
and awe carried over from Spin. The "ashfall" which takes place in Axis
is commonplace throughout the novel but is never grabs my attention. The
Fourths, also, while a major point in this novel, seem no different
than the unaltered humans and so do not garner any excess consideration.
It's just in the last 10% where answers surrounding the state of being
of the Hypotheticals and "ashfall" are hypothesized, regardless of how
unfounded and unsatisfactory they may be.
between the limited characters are dry and sometimes even itchingly
tedious. Even the dominant love triangle surrounding Lise (along with
dull Brain and drab Turk) plays little into the plot. The only
characters which got any rise out of me were two agents from Earth
inspecting the Fourths on the New World. Their additions to the plot
were thin, but Wilson's introduction was classic: "Sigmund was tall,
sepulchral, flinty. Weil was six inches shorter and stout enough that he
probably bought his pants at a specialty store. Weil was capable of
smiling. Sigmund was not." (122) This may be the only smile you'll receive
from the entire novel.
Much of the New World which Wilson
explores here has Asian overtones. The shipyard where ships are
deconstructed is our point of entry into this strange planet. First
Wilson states that Indian and Thai workers dominate the yards, but some
pages later he writes that Indian and Malaysian workers make up most of
the task force. At the same time, the village on the shore near the ship
yard is an Indonesian village (more precise, a Minang village).
However, the only cultural additions to the pages where the village of
Minang is spoken are limited to their language (the one word "Ibu" is an
honorific which means missus) and the false statement that the
written language is curvilinear. If Wilson wanted to include Indonesian,
Indian or Thai culture into his novel, the effort would have been
welcome as it needed some exoticism or flare to reflect from the pages.
Wilson tends to repeat himself throughout the book. He mentions the
same things about the Fourths over and over again as well as
descriptions of the strange flora. There are even some fallacies in the plot
flow (regardless of how inane they may be, they shouldn't have been
present). In one passage Lise makes her way out to the all terrain
vehicle to grab some foodstuffs while on the next page she has to put on
her boots because it's stated that she hadn't left the room since they
had all arrived.
After this total dud of a sequel, I haven't raked up enough interest after five years to bother picking up the third book in the trilogy: Vortex (2011). Please do read Spin but prepare for disappointment with the second instillation.