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Surely more fantasy than sci fi?,
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This review is from: Unquenchable Fire (S.F. MASTERWORKS) (Paperback)
I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed The Iron Dragon's Daughter (although it is not nearly as dark and sinister as that book in its conclusion or throughout) or its sequel The Dragons of Babel, it is more moderate fantasy in its telling and happier in its conclusion so I think it would be a little more like The Anubis Gates (FANTASY MASTERWORKS) or The Drawing Of The Dark (FANTASY MASTERWORKS).
Although all those titles are part of the fantasy masterworks rather than the sci fi masterworks!
I think perhaps the reason this is part of the sci fi masteworks is that many of the trappings of modernism and post-enlightenment or scientific society remain in this setting, ie cars, apartment blocks, TV, government agencies and bureaucracy, even though there has been a quite fantastical and spiritualist transformation of reality. This is never "worked out" or revealed as having an underlying explanation or pathology, such as was in I Am Legend (S.F. MASTERWORKS) or Iron Dragon's Daughter (depending upon how you read it), it is truly magical, like offerings in the masterworks series such as The Land of Laughs or Anubis Gates.
This is a wonderfully constructed narrative in which the commonplace of today's world, seeking to navigate unhelpful bureaucracies without any satisfaction in doing so or with the results, is blended with the magical, offering enactments, sacrifices, witnessing individual and group mystical revelations or experiences, but the magical has become commonplace too.
The style and pace of the narrative is a like clunky at times and it does not "flow smoothly", in part this is because stories and story telling is central to the plot and some of the actual stories told by the tellers, central characters in the story, are spliced into the overall narrative, so one moment you are reading about the characters and their lives, mainly one character as she goes about her business and feels hijacked by a higher power, then it switches back and forth between some truly strange stories. I could not always make direct connections between what was going on in the tale and what was going on in the overarching story, although when I stopped worrying too much about that I was able to just enjoy the book.
Reading this I thought that it was a little anti-climatic in its conclusion, there's such a build up throughout the book that it would have been nearly impossible to draw it into a satisfactory conclusion but there is still a proper beginning, middle and end to the story and it is an enjoyable read. Thematically there are issues to do with having your own individual will usurped or whether you can be the master of your own fate or not but what I thought was most brilliant was how the author was able to demonstrate that the most, literally, wonderous and miraculous things could be rendered mundane by ordinary quarrels or priorities and by social conventions or organisation.