Dan Simmons


Phases of Gravity


Since being moderately impressed with Hyperion I gave this similarly packaged one a go.


Blimey – this book nearly got me writing reviews a few years earlier – there are still a bunch of now nearly incomprehensible notes shoved inside it. Alas, I can’t remember specifics, but the overriding memory is one of striking disappointment. I think it’s one of those books that would really benefit by having the last third thrown away. Again, in my hazy recollection I felt that Simmons had set up some really potent, intriguing and challenging ideas … and then turned around and slapped us in the face with a nauseatingly standard Tom Clancy stupid biffo heroics finish. All these hints of greatness washed away in a sea of cliché thriller pap.


I get a vague recollection of the central character going through all sorts of mid-life crisis stuff, questioning what matters, what he’s done, what’s important. Learning to face his mortality, his ageing. And then his son gets himself in trouble, we shake all that off and just get back to all the old weak assumptions and punch the bad guy. The end, God Bless America. A much better book involved with this sort of thing is Peter Goldsworthy’s K.I.S.S.(Keep It Simple, Stupid).


Can I make myself read it again to bother venting my spleen more precisely? Maybe I should just stop two thirds of the way in and imagine my own preferable climax.


October 2004

(Read 2000?)