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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Black Snow Days

Copyright 1990 by Claudia O'Keefe

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SOJALS rating:     
no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Unrated (0/5)

I first read this in December 1990 and most recently on the 6th February 2003

In her day, Jolie Pope was a rich and powerful woman. She was determined that Eric, her son, would be brightest and the best. She even used the latest medical technology to graft artificial implants into her son's head, boosting his intelligence many times over. However a car crash rendered Eric comatose at the age of seventeen.

Many years later Eric awakens to a strange world. The apocalypse has occurred, nuclear war has devastated the planet and the world is in the grip of a climatic disaster. The few survivors on the surface are slowly dying from radiation, malignant virii and pollution.

However, Eric has been resuscitated by a remnant of his mother's organization. Doctors have enhanced his body to make him resistant to the deadly conditions of the outside world. The organisation expect him to go on a mission, through the lethal black snow, to save what's left of humanity.

Eric of course has his magnificent intelligence and his enhanced body to help him in this enterprise. He also has a secondary personality operating autonomously inside his skull, designed by the doctors to protect and guide him. Finally, he's provided with a semi-intelligent vehicle that he imaginatively names “Car”, constructed in the form of a millipede, with clever little legs rather than wheels.

Surely With these advantages nothing can go wrong?

Of course, it all goes pathetically bottoms-up right from the word go. One problem is that the secondary personality was created from the feminine side of his character and this doesn't mesh to well with his primary, more masculine, personality.

The other, bigger problem is that Eric fails at any time to actually use his undoubted intelligence, spending almost all of the novel in a sequence of incoherent temper tantrums or uncommunicative sulks.

There's something seriously odd with the language, with the use of grammar and with the way the viewpoint bounces around among the characters. It's clearly a deliberate technique, I mean I can see that's it's not entirely random. Perhaps it needed a more delicate application. Having it right slap bang in your face from page one and stuck there like Clingfilm* right up until the end was too much.

I remember seeing this book when it first came out and almost didn't buy it then. It didn't look like a good read, and it certainly wasn't. It's got some good ideas, and it almost came close to being exciting a few times. Almost. But most of the time we are listening to the tortured thoughts of Eric's dysfunctional mind and this over-emotional, imbecilic claptrap just goes on and on.

It's worse, and less coherent, than C. L. Cherryh's "Cloud's Rider", although "Black Snow Days" doesn't have the horses.

* Saran Wrap, not the Salvatore space rock

Loaded on the 28th February 2003.
Cover of Black Snow Days
Cover art by Kevin Jankauski