Oct. 14th, 2015

dionysus1999: (tick)
Just finished Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.   This is a Great Michigan Read selection from the Michigan Humanities Council, so there were lots of copies at my local library.  Emily is a good writer, her prose described as understated in the wiki for this novel.  There's also a certain nostalgia and melancholy that she evokes that works for her subject matter.

Ms. St. John Mandel tells the story of a collection of survivors from the "Georgian Flu", which wipes out most of humanity.  The main characters are part of the Traveling Symphony, a collection of people who travel the post apocalyptic Great Lakes area entertaining the small collections of people that have survived.   The narrative bounces between different viewpoints and times, though unlike other authors, she manages to keep it from getting confusing.  Much of the story is set in the current world prior to the collapse.   The post collapse society part would likely be a short story if told by itself.

This story will slip into you quietly, then wake you in the middle of the night.  There's nothing here all that new, and I have my quibbles about why the Center for Disease Control and their counterparts failed so miserably.  But understated is accurate, and the characters feel like real people.   She adds just the right amount of detail to flesh out her world and characters without bogging down the story.

Anyone who can handle a story that's carved up into chunks of different character perspectives and past/future will love this story.   There are several scenes of violent death and hints of other terrible events, but Emily doesn't glamorize these, sparing the reader the gorier details other authors might revel in.  

I read someone was planning to develop this as a movie.  I think with the right screenplay writers this could also be a good TV series.

Ms. St. John Mandel denies this is science fiction, but I feel it is in the best tradition of speculative fiction.  It feels a bit like a Clifford Simak story, in that much of the story takes place in pastoral scenes, rather than in a tin can in space or some megapolis.  It also evokes Margaret Atwood, though she avoids the creeping doom feeling in much of Ms. Atwood's fiction. 
dionysus1999: (tick)
I like Tim Burton, but Nick Cage as Superman?    


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