Tuesday, June 25, 2013

'Smallworld: A Science Fiction Adventure Comedy' by Dominic Green

Official Summary:
Mount Ararat isn't your average extrasolar agrarian colony. A world the size of an asteroid yet having Earth-standard gravity, Mount Ararat plays host to a strangely confident family whose children are protected by the Devil, a mechanical killing machine, from such passers-by as Mr von Trapp (an escapee from a penal colony), the Made (manufactured humans being hunted by the State), and the super-rich clients of a gravitational health spa established at Mount Ararat's South Pole. But it soon transpires that the Devil is harbouring an ancient and deadly secret.

I expected great things from Smallworld. Something about the title, the cover, the description, billed as both a science fiction and a comedy smack in the title, and by a Hugo nominee no less - it felt like it could have been literary magic. At very least engaging. And at very, very least maybe deliver a chuckle or two.

So it's with a small amount of regret that I must report that Smallworld sucked.

From a character naming convention that was little more than a cheap way of telling the audience what the character should be like, rather than having the character filled out enough to come to that conclusion on your own all the way to scenes that were about as coherent as an SNL skit that falls apart somewhere in the middle and ends with the comics running around like chimps - suffices to say there was very little here that didn't make me feel like the idiot in the room missing the joke.

Who knows? Maybe I AM that idiot. Maybe this novel was absolutely brilliant and my plebian mind just couldn't wrap itself around the 'bone-dry satire' that at least one reviewer points to being this author's forte. By the mid-point I was actively forcing myself to the end because I thought it might all come together in some amazing ah-ha moment. Unfortunately, it ended in such a ludicrous, out-of-the-blue, anticlimactic way it made me wish time travel had been invented so I could go back and warn my past self to avoid this complete waste of time. 

Bottom Line: I usually love this stuff. I'm a Monty Python addict and have a near religious appreciation for author's like Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett and I just don't get this one. But then again, maybe I just don't get it or maybe it was the unreasonable expectations I had walking into it. Either way, save yourself the time and walk by this title.

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