Sunday, August 30, 2015

Book Review: The Fires of Paratime

The Fires of Paratime
L. E. Modesitt
Science fiction

We have almost 5,000 volumes in our house. I haven't read them all; I married into a bunch of them. So, said I to myself, why not dip into that backlog? I picked L. E. Modesitt for no special reason, except that I hadn't read much of his stuff, and he's been publishing for quite a number of years.

If The Fires of Paratime is a representative example, that latter fact needs some explaining.

This book reads as if it had been assembled from a kit by someone who hadn't read the directions. Characters enter and vanish with no rhyme or reason. Storylines are introduced with considerable fanfare and go nowhere. Dialogues start and end in the middle, without contributing anything in particular to the story. The motivations of the characters--including the first-person narrator--are incoherent. The whole thing is filled with one-sentence paragraphs, disconnected from the paragraphs before and afterwards.

Eventually the main character, for no particular reason, develops unstoppable super-powers and kills everyone. So he wins.

Seriously. What happened here?

Oh, and it's derivative. The basic shtick is reminiscent of Asimov's underrated novel The End of Eternity. And that thing where the Gods are actually off-worlders with advanced technology ... it's been done.


  1. I do remember buying this - SFBC edition - and reading it like 30 or so years ago. And forgetting everything that happened. I wonder if some of the SF & F market is geared toward the buyer who just wants a cool experience. Like unto a good movie that falls apart if you look at it critically.

    1. I think that was certainly true thirty or so years ago. There were a lot of unskillful writers out there. Some of them had interesting ideas, without necessariily having the ability to carry them off.

      Nowadays, I think the general skill level is higher, but the level of creativity and imagination is lower. Too many people writing commercial fiction by the yard.