Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Short, Sharp Shock by Kim Stanley Robinson


This is one of the hardest books I have read and reviewed.  I have not read much of Kim Stanley Robinson's work.  A friend (I might as well list him as "creative consultant"-Terry Kissinger) is a big fan of Robinson's Mars books.    I did not want to start another series until I finished one that I already started. So I thought this short book would be a good one to try.  Normally, Terry and I have similar tastes in science fiction and comic books.  Imagine my surprise when I did not like this book.

It started good enough with a man with no memores waking up on a beach.  The language and style of writing reminded me of Roger Zelazny's writing.  Starting a story with the protagonist having no memories is very similar to Zelazny's "Nine Prnces in Amber".

The main character goes with the flow. He rarely makes decisions.  Most of the chances in the book are forced on him or just happen and he goes along with them.  In Zelazny's book, the character made choices and tried to accomplish goals.  Robinson's protagonist seems to have no ambition.  He is perfectly content just letting things happen to him.  This does serious damage to the story.

Is the story all bad?  No.  Robinson shows off his vivid imagination and descriptive skills.  He just needed to work out a story to go with the basic idea he set up.  With a solid story being the frame work, this could have been a very good book.

Based on other reviews I have seen, this is a style that Robinson only used on this story.  I will be reading more Robinson in the future to see if I like his regular style.

I would recommend skipping this one. 


5 comments:

Carl V. said...

I certainly appreciate the honest review, and am glad to hear that this style is not one that Robinson repeated. I haven't read any of Robinson's work either, but would like to try the Mars series one day.

adamosf said...

This is not a good book by which to judge Kim Stanley Robinson. It is atypical of his work, and one i did not like very much.

Try his first collection THE PLANET ON THE TABLE for a good cross-section of his fiction. Or the standalones THE WILD SHORE or THE YEARS OF RICE AND SALT. if you like them, then the MARS trilogy is waiting.

Jim Black said...

Thank you for the recommendations. Have you read many of the Ace Specials? If memory serves me right, THE WILD SHORE is the first book in one of the series. I ordered GREEN EYES today.

adamosf said...

That was Terry Carr's second series, which opened with THE WILD SHORE and NEUROMANCER. Although the latter got most of the acclaim, I preferred the former. Overall, both of Terry's first 2 series were superb, with almost any novel worthwhile. I have at least 2 dozen of them, and would gladly buy all the others.

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