The Dune analogies are myriad. A noble family goes to a planet where the ruling class does not want them... to solve a problem which revolves around the unique and mysterious ecology of the planet. A religious organization which holds sway over the entire universe directs them in their mission. The book is well over 500 pages, very serious, longer than it should have been, given the stacking of effects and reveals took away from impact rather than adding to it.
Yet, there was enough to keep me reading, and one hundred pages in, the story developed its own heartbeat. The author, who was born in 1929 in Colorado, the same year as Betty, and wrote this book in 1988, has impressed upon me the fervent need to write amazing physical descriptions of your worlds. Set in a winsome, creepy world, the story grew enthralling, enrapturing: the deadly Joust, the goose girls, the telepathic foxen, even the heroic horses with their thematic names like “Quixote” and “El Dia Octavo.” At certain points, the prose smooths out and becomes lucid and enviable. In the last fifty pages, the book sinks back into its bad habits. An honest-to-God Deus Ex Machina paves the way for the ending, God himself. This is the first time I’ve ever seen God assigned dialogue in a science fiction novel, and delightfully, His words did not fail Him... but afterwards, I was frustrated that D.E.M., among some other extremely precipitous coincidences were driving the plot. Call me whiney.
This book still impressed me: the great parts were far greater than the bad parts were bad.
I finished this book, #80, today, July 7, 2007. Inspired by its finer moments, I also started writing my favorite story once again. It will veer away from hints and information that could hamstring it, and I will work hard to make the setting as memorable as it is in Grass.