Book reviews, art, gaming, Objectivism and thoughts on other topics as they occur.

Jun 20, 2006

Jumping Off the Planet

I usually find it worrisome when a blurb-writer defaults from trying to describe an entire book accurately in a few lines (a difficult task, to be sure) to comparing said book to the work of a reknowned Grandmaster in the genre. Frankly, I think this is how you know that you're a Grandmaster: everyone finds it necessary to compare their writing to yours!

The reason I find it so worrisome is that the comparison is usually even more inaccurate than normal blurb-writing, and this novel by David Gerrold certainly lives up to that expectation. His writing is compared to Heinlein, and there are, sadly, some superficial similiarities, but in essentials, Gerrold is as anti-Heinlein as they come.

The story, UNlike Heinlein, is about a dysfunctional family whose members are so abandoned to their various forms of irrationality that it's truly difficult to like any of them. The main character, Charles Dingillian, is only salvaged by his continuing desire for the freedom of self-determination. Gerrold's portrayel of a truly dysfunctional family and how it comes apart on all levels is pretty accurate, too, it's just not a lot of fun to read.

Also UNlike Heinlein, Gerrold is a raving subjectivist; at the climax of the novel Charles is told, in a tone of revealing a sacred truth, that there are no absolutes! The Old Man must be revolving in his pine box.

So how, exactly, IS this book like Heinlein? Well, Gerrold spends quite a length of time talking about the science behind interesting technological advances, a trait that Heinlein shares. However, I don't think it's enough to rescue this book.

Rating: 1.5

No comments: