15 June 2007

Openland by Michael Liddy

Another book I abandoned. It was actually kind of promising, until the author hit me with something totally unbelievable.

In this case, about half way through, he has his protagonists discover that humans are not native to Earth but are extraterrestrials who have only been here about 40,000 years. With no other explanation at all. And the characters, an archaeologist and a geologist, just accept this with a "Oh so that is it." He even mentions that this makes us totally unrelated to all other life on Earth, but makes no attempt to justify it at all.

I mean, really. You might as well claim that everyone is made of plastic and nobody happened to notice. It's not even that you couldn't tell a story in which humans didn't evolve on Earth - but you need to at least address the fact!


michael said...

I've always hated books that give you everything in nice neat packages.

The actual explanation of how we (humanity) got here is just a little further on from where you got to. I wanted the characters to have to trust Taicalli, and let the sense of "what's this really all about" fester for a while.

The Gamester At Large said...

Well, that's fair enough.

However, humans not coming from Earth just flies in the face of evidence enough for me to buy in a story like this.

michael said...

Perhaps, but there's still a big question mark over what happened before Cro-magnon man, and our particular consciousness is quite unique.

What I was eventually leading up to was that there was another intelligence here before us, one that we inadvertently displaced, and the group find them as they're trying to discover a way to get Taicalli and the others home.

In any event, it's a story, and a good story should enable the reader to be transported to the vision.

You weren't, so I've failed hopelessly.

The Gamester At Large said...

Well, I am not aware of any mystery about human descent, and I'm of the opinion that our consciousness is not different in kind of other animals.

And I don't think you failed as such - just included something that was not to my taste.

In fact, I was pondering the rationality of my views on this. After all, you had previously introduced a bunch of other stuff that also played fast and loose with our understanding of the world, but those things didn't break the spell, as it were.

michael said...

I think you're right, you can't cater to everyone, and to try to would invite confusing blandness.

I don't often respond to people commenting on my writing, but there's something very intriuging to me about your responses.

There's a part you were almost up to where Taicalli talks about the relic (another one, not the one Jeremy has). I'd be very interested to see if it alientes you further or draws you back in.

I ask this because I'm just about to finish book four and though the subject matter is different, there are some similarities in the layered suspending of disbelief, and I want to get a sense if I'm going for too much.

The Gamester At Large said...

I'm not sure there's much I can help with there... it really was a case of the subject matter being a problem, not the presentation.

Evolution is also a hot-button issue for me. It's a big deal to say that people didn't come from Earth - there's a lot of facts that suddenly become hard to explain if that's the case.

Possibly you dealt with these issues later in the book, but it didn't feel like you were going to.

Anonymous said...

Ah, I understand.

I'm an architect, and I've never created a convincing solution that wasn't the result of struggle. If it comes easy it isn't, hmm, deep.

It was good for me to understand the nature of your resistance to the narrative. It's easy to assume all readers see it the same way I do.

The Gamester At Large said...

Cool, I'm glad you got something out of my comments.

gryphonoz said...

I only recently stumbled upon OPENLAND at one of those bargain book sheds and have to say I'm REALLY enjoying it. (about 90% of the way through)
Australian Sci Fi, hey anyone that name tags radio JJJ in his book isn;t all bad *grin*.

It's science fiction , nothing wrong with just running with something for the fun of it. You can probably pick any sci fi book or movie and pull it to pieces on a comment...

Example- we watched Planet of the Apes 1st movie on Blu ray recently and I never noticed before that when the astronauts crash ...they talk about the planet (which is a future Earth) but they also say 'NO MOON....' through-out the debut movie and the next 4 APE movies no one EVER mentions why there isn't a moon. Sometimes you just run with it..... and sometimes it opens one's own imagination to the hows, why's etc.....

Didn't someone once say we are all just stardust anyway?

Good book Michael Liddy

Peter Green