Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Yes, I do read my reviews

‘When the laws of physics defy the science of storytelling’ says the headline. Whoops, I’m in for it. But not completely. Ed Lake’s review of The Sun and Moon Corrupted in the Telegraph last weekend was not a complete stinker; I think it is what one calls ‘mixed’. He calls it a ‘fine piece of pop science’, and says that I ‘manage to deliver a surprising amount of actual science.’ Uh-oh – seems he detects a Djerassi-like agenda to sneak science in through the literary back door. Then we hear about superheroes and the X-Men and a ‘Dan Brown novel with weird science in place of crank Christology’, and I sense I’ve failed to land in the right field here. Can’t exactly blame anyone else for that, but let me just say now: I really don’t care if you learn any science from this book or not. Not a jot.

I’m not about to indecorously defend myself from criticism here. Ed Lake made a considered judgement, and that’s fine. He said some nice things, and some useful things, and he did a good job of conveying the essence of the plot. (I don’t, incidentally, take ‘overripe gothicism’ as a criticism, and I’m not quite sure if he meant it to be – it’s unclear if he wanted less of that, or more.) It’s just an interesting awakening to the world of fiction reviewing, where one unfortunately can’t say ‘this particular criticism was disproved in Physical Review Letters in 1991’. One person’s meat is another person’s demon-haunted brew from the foul swamps of Transylvania.

Still, the New Humanist liked it.