Empty Space: A Haunting Paperback – 5 Mar 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past"
As a teenager in the 1960s, I read science fiction avidly; the usual suspects - Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Aldiss, Ballard - all the postwar writers I could find, really.
But by the time the "New Worlds" school of sex and drugs and rock'n'roll sf came along, I had largely moved on to more mainstream fiction. In the forty-plus years since then, I have occasionally dipped a toe back into the genre, without ever really finding anything to get me really excited. Then I (re)discovered M. John Harrison. A chance find of "Light" (the first part of this trilogy) in a charity shop had me intrigued, not least by the heavyweight recommendations in the review blurbs. My initial attempt to read it was a false start - the first chapter introduced us to a rather unlikable theoretical physicist with a penchant for randomly murdering yuppies. Was this going to be some sort of British rehash of "American Psycho"? I put it down and read something else. But some months later I gave it another shot. And, as the action shifted to a bizarre (yet strangely familiar) 25th century culture far out in a region of the galaxy where conventional physics breaks down in unpredictable ways - The Kefahuchi Tract - I was hooked.
The apparently unrelated threads of the story, were ultimately reconciled - sort of. It left me slightly confused, but entertained, intrigued, and wanting more. So I got a copy of the sequel "Nova Swing". Still set in the futuristic cultural mash-up of the region around the Tract, this was a wonderful detective noir pastiche, chock full of sly in-jokes and pop culture references, like some sort of deranged collision between Philip K.Read more ›
But this is where it becomes (for me, at least) difficult: after a little while I realised that I didn't care at all about the story. Or the characters. Or their entire bent universe, for that matter, because all the different plot lines just weren't... I don't know... "human" enough. Another reviewer made a comparison with a few great movie directors, and one of them I find particularly significant here - David Lynch. Now, I consider Lynch an absolute genius and I love his movies, but I can't help finding some of them a trifle perplexing. Take Lost Highways: great visual. Breathtaking scenes. A sense of dread that insinuates into you from the first few minutes and doesn't go away, and yet... and yet... what the h*** is it all about?!
Now, Lynch himself admitted that for the most part he doesn't know what it is about, either; and I'm sure this is not the case for mr Harrison. Still, to me and for my evidently limited abilities, "Empty Space" is exactly like Lost Highways, which is a real shame because with a little more it could have been Mulholland Drive instead - i.e. something that, in the end, actually makes sense. As it is, it left me with a feeling of having read something exceptional without really "getting it", and that ...is not very pleasant. :)
Harrison (even in his earliest works) has always been a writer able to find ways of discussing ideas through action and events. And not content with that skill, he writes with a confidence, wit, and intelligence that leaves a lot of other writers gibbering incoherently on the starting blocks. Literate, entertaining, and clearly working at his craft in order to enhance his art. One could wish that we were able to say as much of many of our so-called literary authors.
Despite having written `straight' novels, there is a perception that Harrison is a science fiction writer (or worse, a writer of fantasy). But like all good writers, he transcends that. For one thing, he always manages to turn any genre tropes he uses inside out and upside down. And at the heart of his work are human beings trying to come to terms with being human.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After reading M. John Harrisons The Ice Monkey, Climbers & Course of the Heart years ago, I came to the Kefaluchi Trilogy with high expectations. Read morePublished on 15 Aug. 2014 by Shane Britt
Like many of M John Harrison stories there is a decent story here – or several stories but not really what you would call a plot. Read morePublished on 15 Jun. 2014 by P. J. Dunn
This was the first of 3 I started reading but didn't get far before realizing and immediately stopped after a few pages, but it setup some expectations about all three books which... Read morePublished on 31 May 2014 by J. Morris
Ever since M John Harrison's first SF novels, it was clear that he could write most mainstream novelists, not to mention fellow SF writers, under the table. Read morePublished on 18 May 2014 by John Fletcher
I have been an avid reader of SF since 1956 but have seldom been more irritated by such a load of disjointed tosh!
I am too old for this nonsense.
The best way to understand this novel is to jump into your time machine and head back to the early 1960s and then skim through some of the 'New Wave' science fiction being written... Read morePublished on 1 Feb. 2014 by A. J. Poulter
On finishing reading this, my first reaction was to go back and re-read the whole trilogy for the sheer pleasure of it. Read morePublished on 4 April 2013 by Ged Dixon