This morning was new book day… yay!
That means I just finished Eifelheim by Michael Flynn. Took me a week and a half but that’s not an indictment against the book so much as it is against the amount of free time I’ve had since I moved to the new position at work. I picked up this book at Boskone last month based off seeing Flynn on the Alien Characters panel. He wasn’t the most talkative, I don’t know if that was by choice or just everyone else had a lot to say, but it really stuck in my head how he said the 14th century villagers were more alien in their thought process than the actual aliens.
The book bounces back and forth between a modern day scientist-couple. One is a cliologist and the other a physicist. I had to go “Double you tee eff is a cliologist?” and google was all helpful in telling me it is the mathematical study of history. Reading the book it came off more as meteorology and history since it was all the study of patterns. So he’s trying to figure out why the town of Eifelheim hadn’t had any settlement in it since The Plauge and she’s trying to study all the layers of realities and the stuff that physicists do. They make up maybe a third of the book, maybe even less. The meat and potatoes of the book is about Father Dietrich, of the titular village, makes contact with the Krenken.
The Krenken are grasshopper-like aliens who pop into the Black Forest crash landing style. The Krenk are closer to the reader than the villagers are. Dietrich is a scholar for his day, having been a student with guys like Occam and Bacon out in Paris. He convinces the village that the Krenken aren’t demons but “travelers from a distant land” and the village and the aliens live out what days they have left on the cusp of the plague.
So that’s the short version without giving anything away that wasn’t on the back cover of the book. The scientists part of the book was at it’s best when they were uncovering things you could place in the medieval storyline which hadn’t happened yet and vice versa. Through most of the book though, I was antsy to get done with them and get back to Dietrich and the Krenken. Their information was important for all I wanted to get over their chapters.
The book was very fascinating in the challenge of writing these characters true to their thoughts. As a writer I’ve found that writing characters as different from me as possible made for better characters. Made me stop and think about what they were doing and why. When a character is too close to yourself, it’s easy to gloss over things that are familiar. So as a writer, having an entire cast way out in left field must have been a wicked challenge. Seeing it done with such authenticity was a joy to read.
Pacing wise, it was steady. It never picked up that much through most of the book but that wasn’t a bad thing because of the aforementioned character building. It did get more intense, if not actiony, in the last act of the book. All in all, I did enjoy the book heartily predominantly for the characters. It’s definitely a thinking book, a little philosophical SF.
Next up is a reread off the Shelf of Honor. I wanted a change of pace. So far this year it’s been Song of Ice and Fire, Control Point and this last book. So all but one have been swords, hence the change in pace. I have this massive “to buy” list and didn’t realize how small my to-read list had shrunk. My copy of Arctic Rising hasn’t made its way back to Rhode Island from Oregon yet and I had nothing straight up sci fi in the pile. It became a toss up between David Weber’s In Fury Born and Eric Nylund’s Signal to Noise. The former won out because Signal‘s sequel is in my to buy pile and Fury has space marines *and* parts of the Greek pantheon. So off to my book and let’s have at it.