Saturday, September 16, 2006

The Dry Salvages, by Caitlín R. Kiernan

(hb; 2004)

From the inside flap:

“Three centuries in the future, though much of Earth has been crippled by war, pollution, and catastrophic climactic change, man has at last traveled to the stars and even found evidence of at leat one extraterrestrial civilization. In a bleak and frozen Paris, at the dawn of the 24th Century, an old woman is forced to confront the consequences of her part in these discoveries and the ghosts that have haunted her for almost fifty years. The last surviving member of the crew of the starship Montelius, exopaleontologist Dr. Audrey Cather struggles to remember what she's spent so long trying to forget – the nightmare she once faced almost ninety trillion miles from Earth.”


The set-up's familiar, but author Kiernan deftly avoids clichés by using sublime, sometimes poetic language, while utilizing a “hard” (fact-based) science fiction feel. It also helps that while she uses those set-ups, she doesn't belabor them. An element of 1950s-ish/Lovecraftian horror - understated and fleeting - also flavors this interesting read.

Worthwhile read, structured and toned with Kiernan's distinctive writing style (which blends classic literature, art-based elements, an edgy directness while playing with - then creatively gutting - clichés).

Check it out.

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