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Goat Heads and Sand Burrs, P. Kirby's Reading Blog

The good, bad, and fugly books I've read.
The January Dancer - Michael Flynn Finished? Well, not quite.

Giving up because no matter how hard I try, I can't get into this thing. Although it is billed as a "space opera," it's more like hard-as-diamonds SF with an abundance of purple prose. (Bailed at 48%.)

I confess, I bought it because it passed the first page test:

"Everything in the universe is older than it seems. Blame Einstein for that. We see what a thing was when the light left it, and that was long ago. Nothing in the night sky is contemporary, not to us, not to one another. Ancient stars explode into ruin before their sparkle ever caught our eyes; those glimpsed in glowing "nurseries" were crones before we witnessed their birth. Everything we marvel at is already gone."

The voice in the above has a nice sparkle to it, easy to engage with, and ringing with the kind of truth that makes this reader, nod and go, "Yeah, that's so true."

The beginning also holds tremendous promise. In a scene vaguely reminiscent of something from Firefly/Serenity, the crew of a spaceship barely escape from a dangerous planet, once the home to a long gone, but powerful elder race.

Unfortunately, it's not representative of the rest of the novel. To be blunt, the author seems a little to enamored with clever turns of phrase to the point where eloquent moves into a garish shade of purple. Individually, many of the sentences in the narrative are pretty, but put together, there is no flow. It's awkward and difficult to read. Clunky.

Worse yet, there is an absolute dearth of characterization. Every character has at least two aliases, names that are used willy-nilly. I suppose this is intended to give the impression that no one is who they seem to be. Bleck! Buried in fluffy prose and with no particularly distinguishing features, everyone blurs into the incomprehensible background tapestry of techno-science-babble.

The plot, meanwhile, what I can discern of it, meanders between a wandering minstrel who is interviewing a key figure in the story (I think he's key), and various parties in the story, at various points in time. If it were interesting, it would be dizzying. Alas, it's more mind numbing than a truckload of sedatives.

Probably just the ticket for the hard SF fan who loves world building run amuck and blather about various theoretical interstellar highways. If you'd like some story and characterization with your SF, move along, nothing to see here.