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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Carrion ComfortCarrion Comfort by Dan Simmons
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

So I'm changing my final score on this novel from a solid 3 to a generous 4 stars, because the book was JUST THAT UNPREDICTABLE.

That's an odd thing to say as a re-read, no?

There's lots of places where the novel easily deserves a 5 star, just on reflection, alone, and since this came out nearly 30 years ago I'm not going to fuss too much over spoilers.

Do You Like Chess?

Then this novel is for you.

Do you like mind-vampires that look, feel, and act like Donald Drumpf, Conservative Religious Nutsos, Concentration Camp Masters, or quiet, unassuming matrons who take on entire inner-city gangs?

Then this novel is for you.

Do you also like long and rambling adventures populated by normal folk caught up in the nightmare of marionettes, either trying to escape the nightmare or get revenge for the things that had been done to them? As in Full-Blown Epic-Length rambling and character-development-through-action for almost 900 pages, with a nearly uncountable number of reversals, sad deaths, and improbable successes?

Then this novel is for you.

Honestly, I never had any issues with anything in particular. This was a pretty epic horror novel filled with tons of mind-jumping, mind and body controlling, and history. The focus on the details is what made it pretty damn awesome, but that's what horror is all about.

If I were to put my issue into words, I'd still have a hard time, because its faults were also its strengths. It was unpredictable.

I can't say I liked most of the characters, and it was really hard to actually enjoy being in the minds of the baddies, but Melanie was a real treat. Saul, more than anyone, was complex and multifaceted and sits in my mind, as back when I first read this when it was new, as the quintessential portrait of a nazi-hunter/vampire-hunter. Hell, I've been judging all other novels with the trope by this gold standard ever since.

I'm glad I re-read this, but my god it was long. There was so much, by my older and jaded eyes, that I think could have been cut right the hell out, but it was a horror novel first and foremost, and having a long build-up before the missiles come and destroy the island (or whatever) is still what we seek in the style.

If you want a very long and interesting ride, a near perfect diversion with lots of sex, horror, and a cast of baddies with zero moral fortitude and the undercurrent that they *might* get what's coming to them, then I really recommend this novel. :)

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