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.