In War Times (Goonan)

by Kathleen Ann Goonan

Sometimes I run across books that get lots of critical praise but leave me wondering why. This was a textbook example. After the first 50 pages, I was ready to quit, but then when I looked at Amazon I saw tons of laudatory reviews and decided to press on, thinking maybe I was missing something. Now I wish I could have that time back.
Goonan writes mechanically well, but the story she tells doesn’t make any sense. To summarize: Sam Dance, the protagonist, is accosted by a mysterious female physicist who gives him information about a device that can help reduce the human propensity for war, apparently by editing human DNA. Or something. After that, things get worse; there’s a lot of pseudo-scientific mumbling about quantum physics and many-worlds theory. Worse still, Dance is a jazz musician, and that leads Goonan to a lot of elaborate descriptions of various jazz-y things. I loathe jazz, so that was a problem too. (Oh, I almost forgot: her dialogue is terrible– stilted and fake-sounding.) So, not recommended.

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