Monday, October 18, 2010

Paul McAuley update: "The Thought War"

Alright, I've read Paul McAuley's "The Thought War", in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Three, edited by the consistently excellent Jonathan Strahan. I promised I'd tell you what I thought.

I liked it. A lot.

Here are some reasons why I think maybe I liked this one where I'm less excited about McAuley's novels:

  • It's told in the first person, and I think maybe I sometimes have difficulty with the way McAuley writes in third person limited (at least, I think he's writing in third person limited...).
  • It's about not one but two (and possibly three) physics ideas, all handled well.
  • It's an idea story (or, really, ideas story), and so characterisation is less of a big deal.
  • It's a good zombie story, and considering how irregularly those three words run up against each other like that, it must be doing something special.
  • It's got unfathomable aliens, and that's how I like my aliens.
  • It's really punchy, with a killer last line.

Lessons from this one: short is very, very good. A well delivered sting in the tail is totally awesome. Never ever write zombie stories unless your zombies are really, really, really different.

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