Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.
I finished reading Air by Geoff Ryman on Boxing Day; these notes contain spoilers. It’s a good book, despite the science fiction elements being barely explored or thought out. The main strength of the book is the way in which the layers of a small village life are slowly revealed, bringing home the complexity of life in a subtle manner.
At first the poor village is described in superficial terms, the characters are introduced with little background. As the story goes on, the dialogue, primarily the inner dialogue of the main character, Mae, brings out the history and second-guessing of motivations that forms so much of people’s relationships. The creation of the characters in this way works very well, especially as the author has been able to avoid Mae becoming all knowing. Events and characters still happen outside of Mae’s control and knowledge, striking a good balance between fleshing out the world around Mae and drowning the story in unnecessary detail.
The impact of the interactive TV/Internet on the rural village is also well explored. The success of the main protagonist, although explained away through her interface with Air, does strike me as lucky, but does not distract during reading. The role of the government and outsiders in the village’s life rings true, although it plays strongly to stereotypes.
The only part of the story that doesn’t work for me is Mae’s pregnancy. This plays a useful role in the plot, but stretches believability that is already under strain from the barely explained sci-fi elements.
Image: Paris Street.
Email: colin at owlfish.com