The author and Nancy Kress are friends, Nancy is thanked in the opening, and I can see her influence on the opening of this book: is seems artificially structured. Still, the book redeems itself through its ponderings on the nature of the divine and scientifically interesting pacing. It only got hard to read toward the end, when its flaws started to accumulate. The characters are not very different from one another, even between species, and especially in respect to dialogue. Neither are the cultures. The story is about different levels of sentiency, including microbial ones, but they all share a remarkably white bread existence: art shows, night clubs, drug users. Also, the story is almost too simply written. It is easy and quick to read thanks to the pacing, but it really doesn’t plunge you into these fascinating worlds, and sometimes undercuts emotional effects that should be deeper. Still, in a few places where the author exercises some beautiful imagery: maggots biting each other, angels on their way to a wedding.
This started a line of thought for me. I want to write stories that feel real, which I think relies strongly on the use of imagery and making the image come forward, but to make it readable can sacrifice some of that reality. Hmmm.