Sometimes what isn't said can be every bit as damning as what is.
- Chapter 7
Basically, this is a mystery thriller. Jay Porter is a smart guy who never got out of his small town. He had a great girl and had a baby with her, but his drug-addicted brother (Chris) always seems to cause him problems. He is now living alone and his former girlfriend and his 2-year old son live with a new guy. When Chris is arrested, Jay gets him released and realizes that there are dangerous lies and secrets in his town. Jay thought Chris was just being paranoid, but when the violence escalates, Jay realizes the danger is real.
I liked this book. Jay is a good guy and wants to do the right thing for his son, but he keeps getting in his own way. Sarcasm helps him get through difficulties, along with his close friends. He wants to do the right thing and find a way to help his brother, but it isn't always clear. The secret wasn't clear to me until near the end, but I have a feeling more related secrets still exist that weren't revealed in the book. I guess I would have to read more of the Jay Porter series to find out, but... I'm sorry Book, I'm just not that into you.
An interesting note, the author, Joe Clifford was a homeless junkie before he became a successful writer. His firsthand knowledge gives an interesting perspective into the lives of homeless drug addicts. The details are amazing but brutal and raw.
I read this book for the Fantasyland 6 space - book with a winter scene on the cover. The book has 202 pages, so that will add $3.00 to my bank.
On to my next roll...
I've been a fan of science fiction for as long as I can remember. Some of the first books I read were science fiction novels, and I've never stopped reading them. It wasn't until recently, though, that I began breaking out of my comfort zone in science fiction and reading novels that I might not normally have picked up. It's proven a real education in the genre, and one that helps me to appreciate how much it has changed.
Reading Clifford Simak's Time and Again has highlighted one of the most dramatic differences that exist between science fiction novels today and those of the genre's "golden age," which is the centrality of plot. Simak's novel has plot to burn. Set in the 80th century, it imagines a future in which mankind (and given the near-total absence of women from the book that really is the best word for it) dominates the stars. Yet the vastness of the galaxy means that their presence is thin, necessarily supplemented by both robots and "androids," or synthetic humans. Asher Sutton, a government agent dispatched to one of the few systems unpenetrated by humans, suddenly reappears after having been lost for twenty years. Only this improbable circumstance is met with one of his own, as his boss is alerted to his arrival by a time traveler with urgent advice: that Asher Sutton must be killed.
All of this, which might take up several chapters of a novel today, is presented to the reader in the first four pages. And Simak doesn't let up, as the reader is presented with a series of mysterious individuals, unexpected events, and hidden agendas that would nowadays populate a career-defining series for some authors, yet Simak wraps up in a little more than 250 pages. The sheer force of developments is enough to entertain the reader as they are propelled through each successive twist and turn. Such is the pace, though, that something gets lost in the rush -- namely, character development. Every single one of the characters comes across as a faceless agent for some greater power in the book, with that power ultimately boiling down to Simak himself. Even his central character, Asher Sutton, seems driven more by an impulse imprinted onto him rather than something that was explicable by who he was or any change as a result of his experiences over the course of the book. It makes for a contrast with how so much SF is written today, yet the narrative force often leaves little time to contemplate the emptiness of the characters involved. For some today it may be a criticism, yet it seems not to have bothered Simak a jot in providing an entertaining and even thought-provoking adventure for his readers.
I love reading golden-age science fiction. Part of it is the nostalgia factor; it was a big chunk of the science fiction I remember reading when I was growing up. Part of it is the amusement factor at reading what people at one time thought the future would be like and marveling at how dated it is (would anybody today write a novel set milennia in the future in which men were the only ones in charge and people read newspapers and smoked cigarettes?). But perhaps the biggest part of it is their style; they were written in a much more direct way than novels are today, with little prefatory world-building and character development. Simak's book is definitely representative of the type; he's already burned through enough plot to fill two or three even longer present-day novels, and I'm not even a third of the way through it.