Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Very Hard Choices by Spider Robinson

This is a cross posting of a short review I did for Goodreads.

I'm having trouble thinking of a way to describe this book without giving away too much of the storyline. One thing I can say, despite the title, I don't believe the characters faced many hard choices. They face some incredibly painful choices, but those aren't quite the same thing.

As an example of what I mean that isn't an incident from the book, suppose one has a beloved pet that is dying in agony. What does one do? Surely the choice is painful, but is it difficult? The decisions that the characters make in the book strike me as similarly inevitable. They hurt, but given the set up in the story, I don't see how they could choose anything else.

Two more complaints are that I found the ending anticlimactic and the big plot twist predictable. I'm being vague so as not to give any spoilers. It's clear from the start, though, that potential plot twist is there. The only question is whether the author chooses to do it.

Another annoyance is the political tone of much of the book. Modern liberals will like it, especially those who still like weed. Free-market libertarians will like parts of it and feel picked on in other parts of it. Paleoconservatives will feel even more picked on. Neoconservatives will hate it.

I also think there is some paranoia on parade, but I don't know if it the author's paranoia coming through his characters or the characters' paranoia honestly depicted by the author. In any case, I found it absurd enough that my willing suspension of disbelief failed. The reactions of other readers will doubtless vary.

On the more positive side, I didn't hate the book. Spider Robinson's warm authorial personality still shines through, which rounds off the sharp edges of the many irritations. Although there are two or three places where a parenthetical statement gets so long that I forgot the opening of the sentence and had to go back and look, the writing is mostly smooth and clean. There is a lot of humor, some good jokes, a number of entertaining anecdotes, and a few painful puns.


comeback said...

are you ever going to bring Magician's integration back? It has been paused for so long!!! and if you had a writer's block for the current story line you could always do a "Six Months later" type thing. I really miss the story updates, and just recently re(rererere)read the entire archive


rabababa said...

comeback is right. I really like your characters and want to see them flourish and grow.

Please write again.

Xenophon Hendrix said...

I write some stuff, but nothing comes together. It could be that the condition is permanent.