20 December 2012

Things We Didn't See Coming (Steven Amsterdam)

I don't know how much I have to say about Things We Didn't See Coming--didn't dislike it, decent prose, some good ideas, all that. It's not a novel but a series of connected stories, with the same first-person narrator, over three decades of varied post-apocalyptic anecdotes--there's plague and barricades and societal breakdown, as per uzh.

I guess what's missing for me is connection: both between the stories and with the narrator himself. The episodic feel of the book skips over years that I wanted to know about: the world reshuffles itself so many times in the lacunae, but I've no real idea how, what the transition was like for those who lived through it. And the narrator himself is always a cipher.

As a whole, I think Things is a perfect example of the tendency of literary fiction to emulate genre without really understanding it, preserving the outer trappings but missing the heart. Again, there's nothing wrong with it--I do plan to read Amsterdam's upcoming novel, What the Family Needed--I've just enjoyed other, fully-committed spec-fic dystopias more.

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