Now Reading: Machine of Death by Ryan North
Just Finished: In The Ocean of Night by Gregory Benford.
I once took a quiz that claimed that I was Gregory Benford. Oddly enough, the real Mr. Benford took the quiz and was identified as Arthur C. Clarke.
Regardless, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided that I ought to find one of Mr. Benford’s books. Eventually, I received In The Ocean of Night. It is the story of an astronaut, Nigel Walmsley, who discovers that the comet that’s about to hit the Earth is, in fact, a derelict spaceship.
It was published in 1972, which was vaguely near the time that Space Opera was displaced by New Wave SF, which was characterized by introspective, experimental works. This book certainly has a bit of that feeling. A large portion of the book focused on the triadic relationship among Nigel, Alexandria, and Shirley, and the two women’s fascination with the New Sons, a religious group. This attention to characterization, coupled with the vintage retro-realist technology, clicked together at about page 100, when I suddenly felt as though I was watching Caprica. (There is, however, no Space Mafia in this book.)
Perhaps what has happened before will always happen again, in that the pendulum will swing from grand tales of cardboard characters against a vast background, to intricate tales of deep characters against a cardboard backdrop.
In all, I rather liked this book, especially since it didn’t dwell on Nigel’s relationships for much longer than it did. The science-fictiony scenes, as much as one must wait for them, advance the story rather than act as fan service.
However, I must contradict the quiz, as I don’t feel as though this was something I’d have written. And maybe that’s because when I answer an important question a little bit differently, I get a much different result. If I answer that the grand theme of life is not “exploration and discovery,” but “futility and confusion,” the quiz claims that I’m Kurt Vonnegut. Better find something by him, then.