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Old Green World Paperback – October 28, 2015
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"Craft has created a complicated, powerful world with unexpected vulnerabilities, and the events that unfold there are a tapestry of small delights and astonishing terrors. A love story, an epic, a meditation; Old Green World is a crystal-clear vision of unfathomable mysteries." -- Susan Schorn, Author of the McSweeney's column "Bitchslap," and the memoir Smile at Strangers
About the Author
Jason Dewey Craft completed his Ph.D. in English at the University of Texas, where he studied both queer writers associated with the West Coast "New Narrative" movement and the narrative structures of popular story universes from DC Comics to Star Wars. He works as a software engineer and lives in Austin with his husband.
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The most important theme of the book, I think, is love... not just romantic love, which is certainly there, but the love of family, the love between a mentor and a pupil, the love of friends, and the love for a community.
This is a beautiful book, with vivid imagery and fascinating characters. Basho's word choice is absolutely flawless, and the novel seems almost lyrical as the story unfolds. It touches several genres but never neatly fits in any of them. It is both post-apocalyptic and a genesis tale, science fiction and romance. To me, it felt like a long, sweet bedtime story. Definitely a change of pace and worth your time.
in the island nation of Eden-town, civilization is flourishing. the Adepts and the Old People have seen to this through their instruction, guidance and protection. Albert Todorov and Thomas Newton are two of its citizens. they are in love but their respective ranks in society set them apart and they could never hope to marry. meanwhile, the Adepts are preparing for war against the wild inhabitants of Terra Baixa. Albert is conscripted, leaving Thomas, his farm, the forest and his old life behind.
this is Walter Basho's first novel and it is described as "a science fantasy adventure, a coming-of-age story, a romance and a meditation on what it means for the world to end." there are only 5 chapters but they are lengthy ones. the writing is well-done and so is the world-building with its fantasy elements and character development. however, i find it to be a rather "strange" book. the major parts of it are crystal clear to me while a few are not especially the meditation-on-what-it-means-for-the-world-to-end parts. i find those a little complex and sublime to comprehend. Albert's response when questioned by one of the Old People if he understood what was going on sums up exactly how i felt whenever i came across those passages - "I feel like part of me does, or should. But, no, not really."
despite the novel's bits and pieces of "otherness" and complexities, i still liked it. it was just different from what i expected. maybe, its being unconventional is where the book's appeal for me lies.
*received a copy for review via NetGalley
The basic premises are that this is 4000 years after some future apocalypse. Although the surviving people ostensibly knew about things like governments and civilization and physics and economics, they basically turned back into hunter gatherers and hadn't regained civilization even 4000 years later. "Old people" from before the apocalypse had to come in and organize them, apparently through time travel or something (I didn't get that far, and it wasn't well explained when presented) .
So the setting is something like ancient Rome in technology, branching out to civilize the barbarians. Except there are other weird things happening, magical powers, mind control, etc.
I struggled with the setting through most of the story. For example, cities still exist above ground but are in ruins. Humans haven't reestablished technology but have evolved to be 10 feet tall. There is no communication between cultures. There are bizarre new species. The whole pace of cultural and genetic evolution seems completely off, and makes it seem unrooted in reality. The average sci fi reader wants to be able to build a conceptual understanding of the world in which the story occurs, but the reader isn't given information to help them do so.
As the story progressed it became less cohesive as well. There are a lot of supporting characters that are not well developed. Major plot developments are abrupt and untelegraphed. By the middle I wasn't really understanding a lot of the main character's motivations (for example, anger and revenge over the killing of a character who had been recently introduced and participated in only a couple of scenes became more of a motivation than the earlier killing of his parents). There was too much going on and nothing to follow as a basic underlying plot arc (him trying to get with his childhood love? He seemed to lose interest. His relationship with a friend? Lost interest. His effort to get to the bottom of things? Secondary to revenge. His desire to kill the enemy? I don't think that's where this is going). In the end I lost any sense of plot and DNFed.
I'd give this 2.5 stars because it started strong and I think it could probably be effective for a short story, but the structure of the novel was missing. Sci fi readers are notoriously picky about some things. Sequential readers who easily suspend disbelief will likely have a better experience than I did.