Communion Of Dreams

“Better than 2001”? Wait – what???

So, for some time now I’ve been following Thomas Evans’ The Archaeologist’s Guide to the Galaxy. He offers very intelligent, insightful, and sometimes biting reviews of a lot of books – but it was his writing about Science Fiction which caught my eye and got me reading him regularly. I haven’t mentioned it here, for one very simple reason: I wanted him to read, and hopefully review, Communion of Dreams. And I didn’t want there to be any doubt about whether or not my comments biased him.

Well, now that concern is moot. Because he just posted a full, formal review of Communion.

Now, the usual thing would be for me to excerpt some of the things he says about my book, and tout it all over the place. Like the title of this post. Yeah, he basically says that one aspect of my novel is better than one aspect of 2001: A Space Odyssey. And I could justifiably paraphrase him to claim that this was the summation of his review. Well, were I a press agent for a big publishing house, I could. Or would, rather, regardless of whether it was actually justified or not.

The actual passage from his review says this:

The topic of possible ancient alien contact is brilliantly handled and to my mind, makes perfect sense (within the context of the book that is). Indeed, it has quite the opposite effect that most such stories have on me, and is one of only two such conclusions that I actually liked. The other was Arthur C. Clark’s 2001, so that is very august company to keep, and to be honest, I thought the way that Downey handled it in this book was superior. I won’t go into any further details, for the question of whether or not there even was contact is one of the most interesting and intentionally downplayed elements of this book. Suffice it to say that the way this book addresses the whole concept of the ‘object’ is well worth the read.

See? There’s more nuance there than just a pull-quote.

Just as there is in the entire review. Which is why I like this fellow’s reviews. He’s a SF writer himself, and thoroughly understands the genre. He knows its ins and outs, understands the strengths and weaknesses of a given author or story line, identifies the tropes and traditions. He doesn’t pull punches, has his own quirks and preferences. Above all, he has intelligent reasons for the things he says about books, and explains those reasons.

So I was flattered that he would take the time to read Communion, let alone write such a complete review of the book.

And it is an excellent review. No, not in the sense that he thinks the book is excellent. In the sense that he clearly says what he likes and dislikes about the book, and offers his opinion on to whom it might appeal. Yes, there are a lot of positive things he says about CoD, and that gives me a nice ego-boost. And I don’t agree with some of his criticisms of the book. But those criticisms are honest and fair – he makes a strong case for why he says what he says, and on that basis I have no complaint with his conclusions.

See for yourself. Go read the review. Leave a comment about what you think of it there on his site. Or not. But do yourself a favor and add him to your regular reading list. I have.

Jim Downey

3 Comments so far
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I learned a little more about writing today just from reading his review – obviously a natural teacher. You should be very proud, Jim!

Comment by Liz Soldwish-Zoole

[…] shown that it has appeal beyond just the genre, and in fact the formal review I linked to earlier this month summed up his recommendation this way: “A solid read that may have greater appeal to […]

Pingback by 538 and counting. « Communion Of Dreams

[…] Communion of Dreams with the works of Arthur C. Clarke in general, and with 2001: A Space Odyssey in particular.  Which isn’t surprising, since the book is an intentional homage to that book, referencing […]

Pingback by Well, when you put it like *that*… « Communion Of Dreams

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