Yes, yes, ha ha ha. Very funny title. Anyway, I just finished reading “The Buried Pyramid” by Jane Lindskold. This was the most recent free download from Tor. Being slightly suspicious after the “Spaceman Blues” fracas, I was hesitant to get started on what Tor tells me is “a marvelous ride through Ancient Egyptian myth, legend, and religion”. However, I am always ready for a bit of Ancient Egypt, so I plunged in. In short, this book is acceptably wonderful.”Acceptably Wonderful”, what the hell does that mean? Well, bibliophiles everywhere know about a certain type of book. You may have a different name for this category, but “Acceptably Wonderful” is mine. This type of novel draws you in, it has characters that you wouldn’t mind speaking with in public, pretty good plot, and a couple of twists that you didn’t (quite) see coming. In short, it’s a pretty darn good read. The only trouble is that once you finish, you just know that you probably won’t be coming back to it. And that really is the case with “The Buried Pyramid”. I loved it, but I won’t be reading it again.
“The Buried Pyramid” is a great 1890’s period piece about rich British “Archaeologists”. There’s the absent minded Egyptologist, the dashing former British Army officer with his sweetyettoughAmericancowgirl niece. There is the secret sect of desert Bedouin who will stop at nothing to protect the “Secret In The Desert”. And there is the beautiful but deadly English Noblewoman, intent on finding the treasure for herself. As enjoyable as that is, about 3/4 of the way in, the story just leads us right into Sci-Fi land. I won’t go into any more detail than that as any discussion would be full of spoilers, but it’s definitely a welcome change from mouldy mummies rising from the tomb. In fact, I have to applaud Ms. Lindskold’s creativity, even while I lament the book’s failure to connect with me.
In short, I definitely would recommend this to anyone even remotely interested in Ancient Egypt. The research was obviously intensive, as the descriptions of Egyptian dress, manners, morality & religion are stunningly depicted, and even the late 19th century scenes are impeccable in detail. All in all a most enjoyable read. So much so, that my faith in Tor is restored.
I say a “partial” review, because, frankly, I couldn’t finish the damn thing. Brian Francis Slattery’s “Spaceman Blues” is flat out weird, and I’m not talking about the 1923 magazine. The cover copy calls it a “literary retro-pulp science-fiction–mystery–superhero novel”, but I really couldn’t find much that was retro, pulpy, science fiction related, or even superhero-y. There might be some literary stuff in there, though. I can normally read most anything, but in a very few cases, I find that my time is too valuable to spend it on trying to decipher a steaming pile of crap. The main reason that Slattery’s attempts fail, is not the “stream of conciousness” style which always tends to muddy the waters, but the fact that “Spaceman Blues” is not a science fiction novel. Rather it is a novel about interactions amongst and between various New York City sub-cultures. It’s a Greenwich Village, Annie Hall, gay pride, low-rider story which is couched in a science fiction metaphor. If you consider yourself a part of any of these various cultures, then you might find something redeemable about the novel. The fact is that most of us aren’t achingly hip, gay, living on the Upper East Side (or wherever…), and so we don’t find anything in the novel that speaks to us. I can’t care about the characters, I don’t feel warm nostalgia for the settings, and the tone feels rather jarring to me.
I’m not generally familiar with Slattery’s other works, so I can’t say if this is a typical example, or make any broad statements about his talent and skill. I will say however, that “stream of conciousness” writing is best left to Bob Dylan and ee cummings. Whenever I encounter it from someone who is not an acknowledged master, I immediately know that pain and suffering will ensue. In any case, I wish Mr. Slattery the best of luck with his career, but I would advise most everyone to avoid “Spaceman Blues”.
Stay tuned, because I just got the latest update from Tor. As part of their semi-monthly ebook giveaway, they are offering “The Buried Pyramid” by Jane Lindskold. This one looks interesting and I’ll definitely be reading & reviewing it here soon. The announcement says:
“In The Buried Pyramid , Jane Lindskold sends us on a marvelous ride through Ancient Egyptian myth, legend, and religion and leaves us enlightened and amazed.”
I do so enjoy being enlightened and amazed.