Book Review – Marrow’s Pit by Keith Deininger

Marrow's Pit by Keith Deininger

Marrow’s Pit by Keith Deininger

The blurb machinates:

Built to encompass the entire range of lifeless mountains, it had always, relentlessly, clanked on and on. Within, vast halls and endless corridors were filled with the sounds of metal on metal, with hissing steam, with squealing gears. In the eyes of its citizens, it was sacred, deified, omniscient. Enshrined in their mythology for innumerable generations, it had gone by countless designations, but its truest name was perhaps its plainest: the Machine.

I should have learned my lesson with Automatic Woman, but the blurb for this book was so tantalizing that I chose to read it even though it’s short.  It’s really short (126 pages).  Unfortunately that means that it’s more of a fragment than a complete story, which is just frustrating when you’re not expecting it (although I guess I should have been).

The author does a good job of describing the setting of the book and the effect it has on the characters, and he does a very good job in describing the main character’s relationship with his wife and the ensuing consequences.

The problem is that there’s no moral, no really clear idea of what’s going on or why.  Nothing’s explained and then the book just stops.

Book Review – The Long War by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter

The Long War by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter

The Long War by Terry Pratchett, Stephen Baxter

The blurb parallels:

A generation after the events of The Long Earth, humankind has spread across the new worlds opened up by “stepping.” A new “America”—Valhalla—is emerging more than a million steps from Datum—our Earth. Thanks to a bountiful environment, the Valhallan society mirrors the core values and behaviors of colonial America. And Valhalla is growing restless under the controlling long arm of the Datum government.

Soon Joshua, now a married man, is summoned by Lobsang to deal with a building crisis that threatens to plunge the Long Earth into a war unlike any humankind has waged before.

I found the first half of this book to be really slow going – the protagonists are obsessed with the virtues of primitive living (which I have no interest in) and the bad guys are the kind of small minded politicians that really annoy me in real life.

I won’t spoil it, but considering the book has “war” in the title, the war was a big letdown.

Several characters took book-long journeys with no payoff whatsoever, and some major plot point happened off-screen.

The ending was disappointing because the plot arc was weird, so the book didn’t feel like it had a proper climax.

I think the problem with the plot arc was that there were a lot of main characters, with more added in this book whose arcs started and didn’t come anywhere near resolving by the end.  Presumably this is setting things up for later books in the series, but it’s still not good for this book.