Sunday, October 23, 2016
Short rounds: explosives and Martians
Tonight I finally gave up on Hayduke Lives!, the sequel to Edward Abbey's Monkey Wrench Gang. The plot only arrives four-fifths of the way into the book, having been preceded by lots of stream-of-consciousness rambling, pointless arguments, and enough breast fixation to embarrass even a frat brother. There's more bosom-gazing here than in a supermarket romance novel, making me wonder if Abbey was yanking his readers' chains. I like Abbey, but not enough to make it the last forty pages. I signed on for manhunts and rants, gosh-darn it!
Another quick comment: while I was waiting for my flight to take me to Texas and New Mexico back in late September (a month ago this very day), I started reading Out of the Silent Planet. I thought a story about a man whose country walk was interrupted by an unexpected trip to Mars might be apropos for a plane ride. There are some maliciously ambitious scientists, see, performing an experiment, and while doing a favor for an old lady and trying to find her son, Dr. Ransom happens upon them and is abducted. He wakes up to find himself on a ship, and later on a bizarre planet full of creatures who seem terrifyingly weird, but prove to be peaceful and rational company -- much more so than the men who abducted Ransom. The book's most interesting point is the metaphysics of its world, I suppose, as Lewis infuses science fiction with medieval cosmology. The planets are not merely islands of matter in an ocean of nothingness, but part of a heavenly plane where ethereal creatures known as Oyéresu rule. Earth is an anomaly, its presiding Oyarsa having rebelled against the heavenly higher-ups. Having read the third book in the 'space trilogy' already, I know the cosmology gets even more interesting, with the Oyarsa of other planets being the basis of the Greek gods. A medievalist like Lewis definitely brings the unexpected to the table when he tries his hand at science fiction.