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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2000
An aging star begins to swell toward red giant stage. The "humans" of many worlds, all likely descendants of a common ancestor, the hypnogogic ape, ride from hot doom to the outermost world of the system, soon the only one habitable. The spaceship that rescues them over the millennia continues to fly its programmed rounds empty, while the "Starbridge" crew becomes top caste on a planet of centuries-long years and winters. The unique thing about this background to the Starbridge Chronicles is that you'll never discover it by reading the books -- and I say this to Paul Park's credit. He constructs a story so deep that it has roots you'll never know, whereas lesser authors like myself go around flashing our explanations for everything.
Park creates a rich fictional "charnal house" filled with all manner of mystery, decadence, death and rebirth. Meanwhile the great wheel of time rolls on, incapable of caring. But the reader has the pleasure and pain of caring very much what happens to many very imperfect people. (Who gives a damn about the perfect ones?)
Paul Park is a revolutionary. When he shows you that the great systems of the universe are heartless and wrong, he's also condemning the great systems we all live under. Some writers advance the revolution by envisioning better ways, but somehow the truths of human nature get in the way of utopia. Perverted utopias, perverted good deeds, and perverted religions are also part of Park's universe. As of ours.
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on April 25, 2011
In this first volume of his Starbridge chronicles, Park introduces us to a world where seasons last a lifetime, privileged people have tattoos on their palms that compel others' obedience, and a bizarre religion attempts to preserve a rigid stratification of society. The initial narrative voice in the book is fascinating; it belongs to a member of an outcast society, meat-eaters who speak idiosyncratic languages and communicate largely through music and dance. Most of the rest of the book is told in third person and describes the activities and adventures of two of the ruling class, along with assorted secondary characters. Until the final quarter of the book, there was not a character that I found compelling, but the world (Park's city is called Charn, but we do not meet the Empress Jadis) is fascinatingly weird, and the style and language are both vivid and entirely appropriate to the weirdness of the world. I did not really see a structured story; the novel serves primarily to introduce us to the world and set up the sequel. I can't comment on the series yet, but I'm keeping an eye out for the next volume.
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on June 26, 1998
The first of The Starbridge Chronicles and it gets off this underappreciated trilogy to an exhilirating start. The world of Paradise is so fully realized that the reader sometimes forgets that s/he is in this one. The world is very surreal and richly detailed, as are the characters that populate the grand drama that unfolds. At the end of the novel the world, the characters, and ultimately the reader have all undergone profound changes. If you dare to escape into this frightening world, you will be richly rewarded and you might even want to tatoo your hand with all kinds of archaic symbols.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2001
This was a beautiful way of telling a story. Musical. I think the whole book should of been spoken the way the storyteller had spoken it. It may be hard to understand once you start reading it, but once you dove into it, it's hard to put down. I havn't finished it yet, but close to it, and so far it's beautiful, that 's all I can say. If you need a book just to pick up and read, try this one. Magical, ~Isirah~Weasel~
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2000
Definitely dark and a bit surrealistic. The setting is very harsh (and I like that) but it seemed to me more like a string of events with no characters - all extras. I didn't care about the characters and they didn't care about themselves. There was no interaction. These ideas put together by someone like Iain Banks would be absolutely fabulous, but by himself it needs work.
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