Black Snow Days
Copyright 1990 by
I first read this in December 1990 and most recently on the 6th February 2003
In her day, Jolie Pope was a rich and powerful woman. She was
determined that Eric, her son, would be brightest and the best.
She even used the latest medical technology to graft artificial
implants into her son's head, boosting his intelligence many
However a car crash rendered Eric comatose at the
age of seventeen.
Many years later Eric awakens to a strange world. The apocalypse
has occurred, nuclear war has devastated the planet and the world
is in the grip of a climatic disaster. The few survivors on the
surface are slowly dying from radiation, malignant virii and
However, Eric has been resuscitated by a remnant of his mother's
organization. Doctors have enhanced his body to make him
resistant to the deadly conditions of the outside world.
The organisation expect him to go on a mission, through the
lethal black snow, to save what's left of humanity.
Eric of course has his magnificent intelligence and his enhanced body
to help him in this enterprise.
He also has a secondary personality operating autonomously inside
his skull, designed by the doctors to protect and guide him.
Finally, he's provided with a semi-intelligent vehicle that he
imaginatively names “Car”, constructed in the form of a millipede,
with clever little legs rather than wheels.
Surely With these advantages nothing can go wrong?
Of course, it all goes pathetically bottoms-up right from the word
One problem is that the secondary personality was created from the
feminine side of his character and this doesn't mesh to well with
his primary, more masculine, personality.
The other, bigger problem is that Eric fails at any time to actually
use his undoubted intelligence, spending almost all of the novel
in a sequence of incoherent temper tantrums or uncommunicative sulks.
There's something seriously odd with the language, with the
use of grammar and with the way the viewpoint bounces
around among the characters. It's clearly a deliberate technique,
I mean I can see that's it's not entirely random. Perhaps it needed
a more delicate application. Having it right slap bang in your face
from page one and stuck there like Clingfilm* right up until the end
was too much.
I remember seeing this book when it first came out and almost didn't
buy it then. It didn't look like a good read, and it certainly
wasn't. It's got some good ideas, and it almost came close to being
exciting a few times. Almost. But most of the time we are
listening to the tortured thoughts of Eric's dysfunctional mind and
this over-emotional, imbecilic claptrap just goes on and on.
It's worse, and less coherent, than C. L. Cherryh's "Cloud's Rider",
although "Black Snow Days" doesn't have the horses.
* Saran Wrap, not the Salvatore space rock
Loaded on the 28th February 2003.