At tor.com, this post: 9 Terrifying tales you won’t find in the horror section.
Wow, I immediately thought. So true.
Stubby the Rocket says:
The Sparrow and its sequel are solidly sci-fi—there’s space travel, first contact, relativity-based shenanigans—but there is also a palpable sense of horror throughout the book. The novel begins with the knowledge that something went terribly wrong with the first human mission to the newly discovered planet Rakhat, and the book unspools through a relentless account of hope, cultural misunderstanding, and tragedy.
That’s all very well, that stuff about relentless tragedy, but let me be a little more clear than Stubby: These books contain the worst situation I have ever seen described in any novel ever, SFF or otherwise. The only challenge could come from novels detailing Nazi atrocities.
In some ways this is a very good duology. I don’t believe in the alien species, plural, for technical reasons rather than literary reasons. I mean: I disagree with Russell about the evolution of intelligence and I would be prepared to argue that she has made very serious mistakes in her conception of this topic. From a literary standpoint, I have no such objection. She had to design her world like that to make the story work. Which it does, in a totally horrifying way.
Also, that woman can write really snappy dialogue.
Have any of you read it? What did you think?
I’ve also read The Road. Yep, it’s pretty horrifying all right. I would say it is redeemed to a certain extent by the very last bit of the story. On the other hand, I don’t believe I kept it. If it’s still on my shelves, I should give it away, because I doubt very much I would ever want to re-read it.
Also, of course, there’s the punctuation, or lack thereof. I vote for this being a rather effective storytelling device in this particular case, but I would not like to read many books written this way, and I can absolutely see readers throwing the book across the room on the grounds that it is absolutely unreadable.
The others from this post, I haven’t read. The only one that sounds like I might like it is Never Let Me Go. If any of you have read this, what did you think of it? Thumbs up, thumbs down, would you recommend it?
Now, I can’t help but feel that a list of nine books is lacking a certain something. Let’s all help Stubby the Rocket complete this list by adding a tenth book, because lists of nine? What the heck is that about? Running out of time before your column is due is no excuse.
So, another book that is not customarily shelves in horror, but absolutely is horrifying: What would you all pick?
Unlike the others on Stubby’s list, I may well read this again, eventually. Also, I gave a copy of it to the English instructor who was teaching YA Literature last year. I think it’s fantastic — and remember how I said only the Nazis could complete with Mary Doria Russell’s scenario? Well, they can, and did, and this is the most readable book I can think of that shows that.
So that’s my pick for the 10th spot on this list.