Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson

Robert Charles Wilson has written some of the best received science fiction over the past decade or so. His spectacular novel Spin won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2006. I also enjoyed Darwinia, which was nominated for the Hugo and Locus Award in 1999. His latest novel, Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd-Century America is at least as good as Spin, and quite possibly better. It hasn’t sunk in quite enough for me to determine that yet.

With that having been said, here’s the part of my review, which I posted yesterday:
The tone is very comfortable and Wilson’s prose is just wonderful to read and digest. The comfortable to which I’m referring is the tone is inasmuch as we the reader, through Adam’s positioning of words, know who Julian Comstock really is. Essentially, the feel of the novel is that we are taking a peek behind the curtain at how the real events transpired around a legendary and historical figure.

While not quite a post-apocalyptic tale, the novel is definitely the story of a nation (and one suspects of a world) struggling to rise through the mire of sin and decadence from its societal predecessor. The world isn’t a typically blasted landscape seen in post-apocalyptic fiction, rather Wilson has envisioned a regressed future. In many ways, this is an elegiac and depressing novel, but the pathos we hear through Adams voice lends an understated elegance and hope to the tale.

It isn’t through info dumps or anything obtrusive that the reader learns about the world at large, technology like cars and travel to the moon are viewed as nearly magical things of the past or fallacies of fantasy outright banished from collective thought. Wilson also manages to conjure the reality of the future world and layer the details very well through the characters thoughts, actions, and words.

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