Monday, June 10, 2013

My Mind Flew Away

Kept thinking I'd read Nick Harkaway's 'The Gone-Away World'. But it seemed I hadn't. In fact, I haven't read anything written by the author at all. Odd. Rectified that with one book. Not too sure about the rest. Hadn't felt like picking up 'Angelmaker'.

A cursory flip through made me laugh at the names used. Okay, I'm being superficial. Although in 'The Gone-Away World', wasn't sure that the post-apocalyptic half-surreal, half-fantasy setting would work for me. (Read reviews here, here, here and here.)

The narrator, Milktoast talks about his best friend Gonzo Lubitsch, formerly from a military unit and now somehow becomes a leader fighting monsters and whatever current disasters that threaten the fragile post-apocalyptic world protected for a distance in a certain "Livable Zone" by the mist called FOX that comes out of the Jorgmund Pipe. Beyond that, is the "Unreal World" where you're on your own.

Everyone in the Livable Zone was united in the desire to maintain and safeguard it. There was absolutely no chance that it could imaginably, conceivably, possibly be on fire.

It was on fire in a big way. The Pipe was burning painful white, magnesium, corpse-belly, nauseating white, and beside it there were buildings and fences, which meant this wasn't just the Pipe, but something even more important: a pumping station or a refinery. The whole place was wrapped in hot, shining smoke, and deep in the heart of the furnace there was stuff going on the human eye didn't know what to do with, weird, bad-news stuff which came with its own ominous soundtrack.

I couldn't really immerse in the author's World. Admittedly, the attention to details was impressive. But the names and all the grandiose play with language and the oft-meandering descriptions of any event was a tad...boring. The plot lost me mid-way. Kept getting stuck between painful zones that blurred between fantasy and sci-fi. And for a moment, I remember why I resolutely avoid sci-fi after a while, and stuck to the genre of pure fantasy.

Modern war is distinguished by the fact that all the particpants are ostensibly unwilling. We are swept towards one another like colonies of heavily armed penguins on an ice floe. Every speech on the subject given by any involved party begins by deploring even the idea of war. A war here would not bbe legal or useful. It is not necessary or appropriate. It must be avoided. Immediately following this rpoud declamation comes a series of circumlocutions, circumventions and rhetorico-circumambulations which make it clear that we will go to war, but not really, because we don't want to and aren't allowed to, so what we're doing is in fact some kind of hyper-violent peace in which people will die. We are going to un-war.

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