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Dead Sea Paperback – January 1, 2007
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From the Inside Flap
From the author of Hive comes Dead Sea, a journey into a place unknown to humanity. A space between spaces where sea monsters, ghost ships, and the undead dwell. When the crew of a lost freighter find themselves trapped in this morbid dimension, it is up to them to locate the U.S.S. Lancet and convince a nearly insane physicist to help them return home.
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Unfortunately, the middle half or so of the book really felt like a writing exercise, where Curran sat down & did nothing but endlessly practice writing descriptions of scary things and scary atmosphere, and discovering how many different ways he can describe ways in which the surviving schmos are scared. I speed-skimmed a huge portion of the the book just waiting for something different to happen.
I realize that getting trapped in a terrifying, endless, alternate universe with no escape would be horrific, but it ain't such a hot idea to trap the reader in an endless sea of words that go nowhere with no escape --said reader gets dreadfully bored & loses respect for you.
This is the second Tim Curran book I've read; the first was "Blackout," which I thought was quite good (though I'm still deciding on the ending). I like his writing & the way he creates a horror atmosphere & horrendous monsters, but I didn't like getting trapped in the Dead Sea of Words. It was rather weird, reading really creative, horrific things happening yet being simultaneously bored senseless.
The novel tells the story of a group of sailors and construction workers who have been hired for a job in South America and begins with them steaming through the Atlantic on their way to the job. After running into a huge fog bank that plays hell with their electronics (never a good sign) the ship finds itself in the becalmed Sargasso Sea of myth. What's worse, is the ship sinks soon after, putting them into the water to survive with all manner of alien things that seem to be lurking in the depths.
There is a wide cast of characters from belligerent honchos to muscle bound hotheads with plenty of "average" guys tossed in. They all feel distinct enough to feel like truly different characters and for the most part they all play a part in the novel that moves things along. I will say that because of the size of the work, the dialogue hit a few points where it just did not quite fit the character or situation, but for the most part, he crafts people who feel like they are a living and breathing person.
The idea and plot of the story are entertaining, and it feels like The Mist at sea in some ways, but with plenty of original ideas to keep it fresh. The pacing of the plot was somewhat uneven, though. There is a large information dump near the end of the book, and some odd (though not necessarily unwelcome) twists thrown in around the same point. I don't think this would have been as noticeable if the book were shorter, but some of these twists felt very rushed considering they happen in the last quarter of the book. The other three-quarters are spent on rafts floating around and dealing with their predicament in a variety of ways. Again, not bad, but it did feel unbalanced.
The writing is top notch, however. There's no denying that Curran has a prolific vocabulary and knows how to wield it expertly. He writes in a way that can be both exciting, creepy, or downright gross and he can paint a picture well. If you like to read a well-written story and are willing to look past some of the shortcomings, this is a book you should read.
On the other hand, Curran could use some editing at the same time. As with The Hive I often found myself cringing a little at yet another explanation of the gooey quality of the sea and the lurid fog or the tenth description of a fungus-riddled ship. Rarely am I a proponent of "less is more" when it comes to description - and it's all good description - but it is just too much at times and comes at an expense to the pace of the plot. I think this book could have been shorter and it would have been a bit better for it - which is a shame, because taken on their own, even these duplicative descriptions are fantastic.
Pacing and some repetition aside though this is a very well written book and more than worth the few bucks being asked for it. If you want a non-Cthulhu Cthulhu story or just a genuinely creepy, slimy bit of fiction, I say check it out.
Another thing: the profanity laden banter between the shipmates was amusing at first, but quickly became tiresome and finally groan inducing when I realized there would be 300 plus pages of such witty repartee. I could not believe that the most homophobic, racist, and hateful of them all, Saks, survived for as long as he did. I was hoping that guy would be devoured by a giant squid about 50 pages in.
Curran is not a bad writer. His shorter work attests to that. But he badly needs an editor, one who can trim his longer work down to an appropriate, digestible size. He also needs a proofreader. The kindle edition is poorly formatted and has an obscene number of typos. Of biggest concern is the fact that em-dashes appear in this book as underscores_like such. And Curran likes his em-dashes, which is unfortunate.
Most recent customer reviews
I found myself completely engrossed for about the first half of this book.Read more