Monday, January 26, 2009
Fantasy Book Critic on End of the Century
Fábio Fernandes (he of Post-Weird Thoughts) has reviewed End of the Century for the Fantasy Book Critic. I'm delighted to see that Fábio has "gotten" what I was hoping to accomplish with this book more than any reviewer so far, it seems. I'll quote more of the review than I would normally do, to point out a few examples.
Good writers don´t necessarily try to “make it new”, as Ezra Pound used to say. Pound, alas, is dead, and so is Modernism, for that matter. What good writers do, though, is tell a compelling story mixing and remixing old tropes and experimenting with clichés so they can still bring the reader some joy and surprise, suspending disbelief, even when he or she is pretty much sure that all the important, interesting things were already said and done (another assumption which should be very dead by now, by the way).Thanks, Fábio!
That´s what Chris Roberson does in his new novel, “End of The Century”—he mixes very different storylines and characters in a 21st century approach to a more than revisited plot premise: the Quest for the Holy Grail.
Roberson interweaves the three timelines very deftly, making the narrative an integrated, non-stop piece. The Galaad tale is told almost in an epic style. Dialogues are realistic, but the situations they come to face are indeed of an epic scale, reminiscent of Gene Wolfe in stories as “The Knight”. The Blank/Bonaventure narrative reads like a Sherlockian mystery, with a fair share of action scenes as well. The Alice Fell story is a high-paced espionage thriller, complete with secret hideouts (the entrance by a toilet stall is definitelyAvengers-like) and bizarre futuristic weapons. Her newfound friend seems to be a more tranquil, cool version of Moorcock´s famed Jerry Cornelius.
The coincidence is that I was reading Sideways in Crime at the same time I started reading “End of The Century”, so I read Roberson´s short story “Death on the Crosstime Express” and learned about his concept of the Myriad. Well, I not only love Michael Moorcock´s Multiverse, but Alan Moore and Kim Newman (to whom Chris dedicates the book, along with Moorcock) are among my favorite writers. So I figured “End of the Century” would make a good reading.
I was wrong. “End of the Century” is EXCELLENT reading.
One of the most important things the reader should keep in mind about “End of the Century” is that it stands all by itself. You may have never read anything by Chris Roberson before, and you will understand every bit of the story—or the stories, since there are three of them alternating with each other almost until the end, when they merge in a very coherent way, tying all (or almost all) the loose ends.
“End of The Century” is one of the best 2009 books I´ve read in 2008. Roberson raised the bar of my expectations.