I was very dismissive of Nova Swing on the most recent episode of the Writer and the Critic podcast and unfairly so. Now having read Empty Space I see both Nova Swing and Light in a different… er… light.
Empty Space isn’t a book about answering questions or startling revelations, although there’s a little bit of that. Rather it clarifies Harrison’s intent – his deconstruction of traditional SF and his undermining of expectations. And he does all this with the sort of slippery but gorgeous writing that makes you reread sentences more than once.
Reading Empty Space is not easy. The book, like an impatient toddler (tautology?) is constantly writhing around, doing precisely the sort of things you’re not expecting it do and making a point of not answering the questions you’re sure it’s about to answer. And somehow Harrison pulls this off without it ever feeling annoying or pretentious or trite.
Ok the book is full of vomiting (most of the main characters have a chuck at least once) and I still don’t get the scene with Brian Tate and the masturbating threesome (I mean seriously WTF!) but I found the experience of reading this sometimes bizarre, sometimes elegiac, sometimes frustrating but always smart novel to be a genuinely exciting experience.
So in-spite of my reservations when Kirstyn and I discussed Light on episode 30 of Writer and The Critic, I think the series as a whole is a success.