LIT: Zindell's _The Wild_

Twirlip of Greymist (
Sun, 3 Nov 1996 12:07:07 -0800 (PST)

[no one uses TAGS: anymore]

I just read Zindell's _The Wild_. I haven't read anything else by
Zindell, because no bookstore in the area has had anything by him, so my
only previous exposure had been Anders' quotations from _The Broken

Thumbnail review: it was interesting. Certainly a transhuman book, with
issues of identity duplication, computer intelligence, really big
entities which can fake being gods, and so on. It refired my
imagination in some respects. In others... the long stretches of
mystical prose-poetry didn't grab me, not to mention the other mystical
elements -- scrying, remembrancing, consciousness directly manipulating
matter. If one makes a scale with _A Fire Upon the Deep_ at one end,
and _Dune_ at the other, the universe of this book seemed closer to
_Dune_, which annoys me. Why?

These days I seem to prefer hard SF or outright fantasy. Both _Fire_
and _The Wild_ are books which find wonder and magic in extrapolating
known technology, but which are flawed from the 'hard' viewpoint. But
the flaws serve different purposes. Zindell's mystical garnishes seem
intended to enhance the magical flavor of the book, but they end up
distracting and cheapening what derives from the harder nanotech/AI
developments. Vinge's flaw is the Zones. The key difference (to me) is
that the Zones aren't meant to enhance anything. They're meant as an
explicit gimmick to allow the existence of normal humans to perceive the
glory of the Powers. Vinge wrote hard SF with a crutch (neatly folding
the FTL crutch into the same package); Zindell wrote almost hard-SF with
fringe decorations. But the appeal of hard extrapolations is in
avoiding such fringes...

Merry part,
-xx- Damien R. Sullivan X-) <*>

Redemption, n: Deliverance of sinners from the penalty of their sin,
through their murder of the deity against whom they sinned. The doctrine
of Redemption is the fundamental mystery of our holy religion, and whoso
believeth in it shall not perish, but have everlasting life in which to
try to understand it.
-- Ambrose Bierce, _The Devil's Dictionary_