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

Jun 28, 2006

Manhattan Transfer

This novel by John Stith is a chronicle of the adventures that occur when the entire island of Manhattan is, well, abducted by aliens. The novel is intriguing, if a little unsophisticated in style and method of characterization. Oh, and it's a lot of fun.

The characters themselves are none too memorable; as with many novels of the "disaster" type, they represent viewpoints of the general population and don't give the impression of a great deal of individuality.

There's the Crazy Apocalyptic Priest, the Practical Military Guy, the Civil Servant, the Translator . . . you get the idea. However, the thing that really makes this book interesting is that the author doesn't seem to take the apocalyptic-freaking-out very seriously; he's quite obviously of the opinion that most Manhattanites are sensible and unwilling to surrender to disaster.

That's really the theme of this book. Although there's some talk about boldly sacrificing Manhattan and all its inhabitants when it's discovered that the Earth is in danger, in truth, the characters are simply unwilling to stop fighting as long as they have anything left to try. In the words of one character: they tried one idea, then another, and another, and another, until something worked. They possessed the one power you really need to face a disaster with equanimity; not any guarantee of success (who can ever have that?) but the power to act. It's the only power you have, and the only one you need.

Rating: 3.0

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