Friday, 9 November 2007

‘Patrimony’ – Alan Dean Foster (Del Rey Books)

Alan Dean Foster’s ‘Pip and Flinx’ series has been going since way back in 1972 and will end with the publication of the book following this one. Since 1972 Flinx (aided by his pet minidrag) has been trying to find out who his father is and it looks like he is finally about to get his answer on a planet called Gestalt. Things are never that simple though, our man Flinx has a price on his head and there are people who are more than eager to collect…
I’d never read any of these books before but the blurb made ‘Patrimony’ look like it could be an exciting read. Apart from the bit about Flinx leaving the galaxy to face certain destruction while he went looking for his Dad that is. Are we really meant to believe that Flinx didn’t think his Dad wouldn’t be there by the time he got back from saving the galaxy? This didn’t sit well with me and meant that I had a problem with the character before I’d even opened the book! I figured I’d give it a go though; it’s only a couple of hundred pages long so it’s not going to be a huge waste of time right? Wrong. Reading ‘Patrimony’ is like wading through treacle, I could see the potential but got so bogged down in the prose that by the end I was skim reading whole pages in an attempt to reach the point of the story. ‘Patrimony’ has a really dry, almost academic, tone to the writing which made it hard for me to engage with the story itself hence the skim reading. The other thing that really got me was the way that the author seemed to feel the need to explain every single scrap of minutiae in his story. If Flinx decided to pursue a particular course of action then I’d be ‘treated’ to at least two pages worth of the thoughts that Flinx had while making his mind up. A bounty hunter made out to be ‘space trash’ turned out to be some kind of intellectual after I was led through every single one of his thoughts, bearing this in mind the final showdown between him and Flinx seemed tacked on and contrived.
I don’t need to be told every single little detail and I reckon most readers are the same. For me, a good book is one where you can make your own connections and feel rewarded for getting something out of it. Where’s the fun if you’re told everything?
Excessive worldbuilding and philosophizing can get in the way of a story, especially if it’s only a couple of hundred pages long. Normally I would throw a book like this across the room in disgust but I was left feeling so apathetic that I couldn’t even do that.
If you’re already a fan of the ‘Pip & Flinx’ books then don’t listen to me, if ‘Patrimony’ is indicative of Alan Dean Foster’s writing then I reckon you’ll enjoy this one as much as the others. If you’re thinking about picking this up for a casual read then I’d advise that you step away from the ‘F’ section, in the book store, and look somewhere else.

Three out of Ten

No comments: