(urth) Effinger

David Stockhoff dstockhoff at verizon.net
Sat Apr 18 16:07:54 PDT 2020


On 4/18/2020 6:55 PM, Dan'l Danehy-Oakes wrote:
> I just read and reviewed George Alec Effinger's book _What Entropy 
> Means to Me_, and I think it may be of interest to y'all.
> Here's my review, which will explain why.
> This book by the late Mr. Effinger could have been written by the late 
> Gene Wolfe as a _jeu d'esprit_. It has many of the earmarks of Wolfe's 
> best novels...
> On a distant planet, a Mother and a Father have settled down to raise 
> a passel of kids - I mean an utterly unreasonable number - and, along 
> the way, instituted a religion with themselves as deities. Father goes 
> off and disappears. After a while, and not long before her own death, 
> Mother sends Dore - the eldest son and only one who was born on Earth 
> - to look for either Father, or the source of the River which plays a 
> major part in their religion, or, ideally, both.
> It's been a long time and there has been no word of Dore. A younger 
> son, Seyt, is tasked by the elders with writing a history of Dore's 
> journey.
> This is the story of Syet writing Dore's story. Dore sets off and 
> meets a wide variety of characters, including a Mysterious Companion, 
> a Mad Doctor and his Monster, a Treacherous Baron, and more. Dore 
> develops as the story progresses.
> And so does Seyt. The First household is a crazed hotbed of political 
> and religious factions, in which the wrong words can get Seyt sent to 
> the Pen, along with losing his name and being assigned a number. Seyt 
> tries, as he writes, to please (or at least not to too-badly 
> displease) all the factions at once. His life as he writes is 
> intermingled with Dore's story, each rising and falling in a sort of 
> pulsing double-helix of narrative.
> If you know your Wolfe, you'll find a lot of this famililar. Only ... 
> this book was published in 1972, the same year as Wolfe's first 
> serious book (_The Fifth Head of Cerberus_). Thus, that Wolfe had 
> influenced Effinger's book is fairly unlikely, though it is quite 
> possible that Effinger's book influenced Wolfe's later work. Sadly, 
> it's too late to ask him whether he'd ever read it.
> What this book has that Wolfe's major work lacks, however, is 
> bellylaughs. Wolfe used humor, and used it well, but it was a sly sort 
> of humor that usually involved suddenly getting the joke several pages 
> (or chapters, or even weeks) later when you realize what something 
> back there actually meant. Many of Wolfe's jokes only appear on 
> rereading; Effinger's jump out and buttonhole you.
> Recommended, and for two bucks on Kindle you really can't go wrong.
> Dan'l Danehy-Oakes
> /Maka ki ecela tehani yanke lo!/
> /--/Tȟašúŋke Witkó
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