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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

       
Paradox

Copyright 2000 by John Meaney

In Association with Amazon.co.uk
SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Good (2/5)

I first read this on the 19th April 2003.

In which our hero Tom Corcorigan receives a mysterious gift from a beautiful woman, witnesses the brutal killing of his benefactor, loses his parents, is ejected from his community, suffers tribulations and physical harm but after determined hard work makes good, and then betrays the trust of his friends in an orgy of vengeance.

Meaney attempts a bigger, classier novel that his previous "To Hold Infinity". He's borrowed a little from Frank Herbert, Samuel R. Delaney and I suppose I have to mention it, Philip Jose Farmer (for his "World of Tiers" rather any stylistic legacy). My initial impression was that he had managed something rather special. The first few chapters were gripping, it was an exciting world full of potential. The novel fails to achieve its initial promise, quickly settling into mediocrity. However, it's an exciting failure and I had a bit of trouble putting the book down actually.

It is a coming-of-age novel. The problem is that it doesn't finish when our hero has come of age. Instead of terminating tidily it sort of loses the point, and certainly most of the math, and meanders on for several hundred more pages before finally coming together in a somewhat disappointing denouement of physical gymnastics. Paradoxically I might add.

This layered world is full of tremendous potential, but it's somewhat wasted on an uninspired political system and insufficient delineation between the levels. There were throwaway comments that intrigued me, there were subplots in which I wanted to get lost. However these products of Meaney's fertile imagination are abandoned, unexploited. Meaney also fails to develop the characters sufficiently. He should have laboured another year on the book, but trimming and polishing rather than extending it. Then he could have had a masterpiece, an SF classic.

And come on, what's going on with the level on which Vosie and Gerard live? The quality of life worsens as one descends the levels, so this level should be for the absolutely hopeless, the ruined and rejected dregs of humanity. So how come it's civilised and pleasant.

And for that matter, what is really going on with Karyn's diary and why did she give it to him? Pretty bloody lucky in my view. God knows how many times I've sat in some isolated alley, writing poetry and awaiting a priceless gift from a mysterious stranger. All I ever got was a kicking and a night in hospital.

Loaded on the 1st June 2003.
    
Cover of Paradox
Cover by Jim Burns

Reviews of other work by John Meaney
To Hold Infinity