158 pages isn't quite an epic quest (3/5)
From February 16, 2011
My tenth Brunner... good going and getting stronger with little end in sight when considering his vast bibliography. It's a joy to delve into Brunner's mind, a mind which has created ten (the current count) versions of bizarre universes, strange humans and their circumstances, intelligent reflections of the future, and discerning visions of reality. While Catch a Falling Star may not really encompass any of those Brunner feats, it still has a Brunner-esque quality that this reader adores.
Rear cover half-synopsis:
"A hundred thousand years from now, it was
discovered that a star was approaching the world on a collision course.
Its discoverer, Creohan, figured there might be time to save the world
if he could arouse everyone to the danger."
Creohan, who is
housed in a mildly intelligent organic house hosting a telescope
belonging to its prior occupant, spots bright star which becomes
brighter and brighter with time. Consulting the Historickers, Creohan
find that's that the approaching star has been approaching for millennia
and will pass by earth in 288 years. With this knowledge he tells the
townspeople who then dismiss his mourning as banal. Upon finding the
free-spirited Chalyth, the couple begin a journey across the earth to
search for other cities who they have lost contact with, to search for a
technological civilization who have the power to catch a star, to save
humanity, to allow humans to endure on their planet.
that Creohan and Chalyth take themselves on spans wildly different
landscapes, a wide scope of evolved or mutated humans, and a glimpse of
fallen civilizations. The House of History or Tree of History is used to
study the history of the planet's rise and fall of civilizations, each
acquiring their own technology, their own ethos and their own
catastrophe. Through the study of the past, the historians
(histroickers) they hope the current civilization will live full and
well, though each minor city is far and few between, the land and sea
teeming with barbarians and heathens. The quest is epic for the pair and
those who ally themselves with the bearers of bad news.
as the novel is only 158 pages, the epic quest is quite condensed and
each chapter of six or so pages is a splash of action, a peppering of
forging ahead, a swath of diversity. When progressing through 28
chapters of this, it's rather tiring and I would have liked to have many
of the sections beefed up, each one adding some delicious value to the
overall plot. As it is, each ort of a chapter barely sates ones
speculative fiction pallet. A quest is a quest, so the inevitable
divergences from a smooth plot is an expectation... but it would have
been so much better to have seen this novel filled out to 400 pages or
even a multi-book series akin to Jack L. Chalker's four-book series The
Rings of The Master (1986-1988), which I was strongly reminded of while reading
Catch a Falling Star. It's also a little bit like Brunner's own Maze of
Being a Brunner novel, it carries his knack forportraying bizarre
forms of humanity through evolution, mutation or manipulation... but it's
not his finest piece, of course. As an astute SF reader it's a certain
addition to my Brunner shelf, but perhaps for the more fair-weather
reader this might as well just be a pass.