on Jan. 5, 2013 :
I'm now halfway through the book and have to lodge complaints with other reviewers.
Pros: Newt Run's author has an astonishing command of the language, throws in memorable details. The premise is interesting, the concepts and ideas engaging. The writing feels like literature, in its complexity, but there's enough fantasci-fi that it really keeps me engaged (not a lit. fan here).
Cons: Let's be serious in our readings here folks: the format of the book runs from first to third person, then to SECOND (since when was I some sort of floating ghost?), past to present and then back again. As if this wasn't confusing enough, and to be fair the author keeps things pretty well in hand, he names characters after letters and then goes in whole-hog with insidious pronouns and dialogue that's not attributed so that I'm not sure who's talking and, in fact, who any of the characters are! (see the transcript of J's talk with two agents, where they are referring to C, when one of the agent's last names begins with a C so he's ALSO referred to as C in that transcript). Oy.
To top this off, neither of our previous reviewers seems to have noticed that the main character (I'm pretty sure) undergoes complete gender change without any sort of mention. The second person narrative follows C (Carol) for 5 years, and later we learn that C (or perhaps another boy? This part is unbelievably confusing) had his dad die in the mines once upon a time, and J was there to comfort him.
Which C is C? Is it Carol, or some other strange boy who's first person narrating and doesn't have a name except for C, and is this part of the overlapping universes thing? I'm almost angry enough at this book to delete it, but it's compelling enough despite the uncountable questions that haven't been answered that I want to finish it.
When I began the book, I'd read a short story by Mr. Inglis and thought it was so interesting (but lacking in explanation and resolution) that I was sure to give this novel 4 or 5 stars. Try as I might, I can't.
(review of free book)
on Dec. 16, 2012 :
Newt Run is a brilliant work of science fiction/fantasy at its core and could be at once representative of both Golden Age and New Wave sci-fi. However, the work as a whole seems to transcend time and definition, much like its subject matter. As stated in the novel, “There is no difference between what is going to happen and what is happening: they are one, and so in standing in the present, [one] is also in the future”. Throughout the novel the reader is drawn into such experience – shocked at once by the baselessness of reality and the immediacy of the now. While this may sound incredibly esoteric the experience of reading this book brings to the surface the very questions we ask ourselves on a daily basis, from the mundane to the philosophical. Rarely have I read a novel that drew me more into the narrative; the story, in some sense, becomes your own. The interweaving of our perception of time, reality, and the day to day defines who we are. You are brought into the story and made to ask: “What is consciousness except the drive to imprint a story on the world?” What I liked best about this novel was the juxtaposition of perspectives across different strings of the narrative and different characters. It was done so fluidly and has a profound effect on the reader. And the egg drops…
(review of free book)
on Oct. 21, 2012 :
Newt Run is a fascinating story that grabbed and held my attention all the way through. The central fact of the novel seems to be a convergence of more than one parallel universes, any or none of which may be considered "real", though when you think about it, to anyone in a given universe, all others would have to be thought of as unreal, which may be the main conception behind the novel.
Numerous characters are interwoven among and into each other, sometimes sharing voices, faces, bits of memories, and bodies, as events conspire to complicate the relationships between these various worlds. Gateways, or holes, between the worlds are painted, built, constructed, attempted in different ways, but incompletely, incompetently and usually rather violently. Different interested parties are constantly in conflict and serve to complicate and interfere in each other's plans to such an extent that none of them can ever succeed.
In the midst of this are people that can't be seen, or can only be seen under certain circumstances, and a girl with a very special egg. My favorite bits are the narration by an old man at a bar, which is written with a wonderful sense of authorship.
Speaking of bars, there are far too many of those for my taste. As someone who doesn't drink, and doesn't like to hang around with people who do drink (or get high all the time), I got a little bored with all the alcohol in this book. To me, it was one of the two biggest weaknesses - the other being the all-too-common appearance of girls with "great legs" who are always willing to spread them for the protagonist. This touch of classic sci-fi could be edited out completely to great effect! Likewise, the drinking could be cut down on - always a good suggestion! Drunks are never as lucid or as quick on the trigger as these guys in this story are.
On the whole, the world of Newt Run is beautifully constructed - a town that shouldn't exist and barely does, built on broken half-assed steam technology (I loved this touch), full of miners and students and bars and coffee shops and buses and hockey rinks and pits down deep in the mines. There are many mysteries here, in a place that came as fully alive for me as an Edward Hopper painting. Recommended.
(review of free book)