Copyright 2000 by
I first read this on the 19th April 2003.
In which our hero Tom Corcorigan receives a mysterious gift from a beautiful
woman, witnesses the brutal killing of his benefactor, loses his parents, is
ejected from his community, suffers tribulations and physical harm but after
determined hard work makes good, and then betrays the trust of his friends
in an orgy of vengeance.
Meaney attempts a bigger, classier novel that his previous "To Hold Infinity".
He's borrowed a little from Frank Herbert, Samuel R. Delaney and I suppose I
have to mention it, Philip Jose Farmer (for his "World of Tiers" rather any
stylistic legacy). My initial impression was that he had managed something
rather special. The first few chapters were gripping, it was an
exciting world full of potential. The novel fails to achieve its initial
promise, quickly settling into mediocrity. However, it's an exciting
failure and I had a bit of trouble putting the book down actually.
It is a coming-of-age novel. The problem is that it doesn't finish
when our hero has come of age. Instead of terminating tidily it sort of
loses the point, and certainly most of the math, and meanders on for
several hundred more pages before finally coming together in a somewhat
disappointing denouement of physical gymnastics. Paradoxically I might add.
This layered world is full of tremendous potential, but it's somewhat
wasted on an uninspired political system and insufficient delineation
between the levels. There were throwaway comments that intrigued me, there were
subplots in which I wanted to get lost. However these products of Meaney's
fertile imagination are abandoned, unexploited. Meaney also fails to
develop the characters sufficiently. He should have laboured another year on
the book, but trimming and polishing rather than extending it. Then he
could have had a masterpiece, an SF classic.
And come on, what's going on with the level on which Vosie and Gerard live?
The quality of life worsens as one descends the levels, so this level should
be for the absolutely hopeless, the ruined and rejected dregs of humanity.
So how come it's civilised and pleasant.
And for that matter, what is really going on with Karyn's diary and
why did she give it to him? Pretty bloody lucky in my view. God knows how
many times I've sat in some isolated alley, writing poetry and awaiting a
priceless gift from a mysterious stranger. All I ever got was a kicking
and a night in hospital.
Loaded on the 1st June 2003.