But then there is the writing – it was enough to make my eyes bleed. Take this painful sentence from the book as an example:
“The sun is part of a galaxy that surrounds a central black hole; and that black hole has broke the hymen of space-time itself and folded out, a point that is an infinite space in which the galaxy itself is nested. Thought and matter are each inside each other, and each flows without and within, and the principle of flow is the ocean.”
Hymen:??? Really?? And what comes after that? A transition from metaphysical prattle to religious metaphors, of course:
“You are dipped in this water, and it is with this water that you are baptized. Streaming, your head surfaces, like the head of somebody breaking the surface of an ocean of words.”
In case you didn’t get the reference enough, there is an accompanying ‘wood block’ type of image where a phallic shaped human ‘breaks’ the hymen of the ocean into a metaphysical space. The mind boggles (ok, no, not really, rather, the mind gives a virtual groan without breaking any hymens).
Jules Verne wrote wonderful arm-chair adventures, not mind numbing observations on the frailty of the human condition when it encounters the unknown. As well, the ‘steampunk’ joie de vivre of Verne’s Victorian world is summarily jettisoned for late 1950s post war racim and stiffness. For a book so earnestly attempting the exploration of humanity, there is not one real person in the whole book. You’ll find the most unrealistic dialogue (perhaps meant to sound clever but instead hitting false note after false note) coupled with even more unrealistic situations. In this, we again see the Lovecraftian influence and I am at a loss to see why we need a hybrid of At the Mountains of Madness with Jules Verne’s Nautilus.
Another odd choice are the dig at society and the source material (20,000 Leagues Under the Sea). Even in the first few pages, the characters are commenting on the stupidity of having a large viewing window in a submarine and how it would make the vessel susceptible to implosion (yes, Verne, you were an idiot for not knowing that, you backwards Victorian!). I have to wonder if the author thought he was being clever with the digs and puns? They felt out of place in a book purported to be an homage, with big Ideas, and a lot of mystical nothings. It also felt indulgent – needing and editor to reel the ego back in.
There are illustrations of a ‘wood block cutting’ type of nature. Black and white and both sparse yet detailed. They were as cold and stiff as the story, further ruthlessly removing all romance and fantastical and again steering more toward the horror/thriller aspects. I didn’t feel they added anything to the story at all.
So yes, this was a disappointment and I spent most of my reading time trying *really* hard to stop rolling my eyes. I’ll pass this along to my neighbor, who has a tween son with a Cthulu poster in his room. Maybe he’ll get it.
Reviewed from a copy provided by the publisher.