Tuesday, 17 July 2012

A Quick Question About M. John Harrison

No, not that question... And not that other question either ;o)

There's a lot of other stuff going on right now and I totally missed the publication of Harrison's 'Empty Space: A Haunting'. If it hadn't come through the door yesterday morning I would have probably missed it completely...

An alien research tool the size of a brown dwarf star hangs in the middle of nowhere, as a result of an attempt to place it equidistant from everything else in every possible universe. Somewhere in the fractal labyrinth beneath its surface, a woman lies on an allotropic carbon deck, a white paste of nanomachines oozing from the corner of her mouth. She is neither conscious nor unconscious, dead nor alive. There is something wrong with her cheekbones. At first you think she is changing from one thing into another -- perhaps it's a cat, perhaps it's something that only looks like one -- then you see that she is actually trying to be both things at once. She is waiting for you, she has been waiting for you for perhaps 10,000 years. She comes from the past, she comes from the future. She is about to speak...

I was about to get stuck in (despite everything else) when I realised that 'Empty Space' is actually the third book in a trilogy, 'Light' and 'Nova Swing' being the previous two. So my question is... Have any of you guys read 'Light' or 'Nova Swing'? I'm trying to get a feel for how well 'Empty Space' might stand on its own as I don't really have the time to go back and get caught up.

All comments welcome :o)

7 comments:

Niall Alexander said...

I'm in a similar situation, mate. Way back before The Speculative Scotsman, I read Light, and I loved it. Quite blew my mind. Then I managed to miss Nova Swing entirely. I have it on my shelf now, but the time never seemed to be right, and now Empty Space is here, I'm wondering if it'd spoil things if I skipped over book two.

So to answer your question, Graeme, I uh... can't answer your question! But I can recommend Light wholeheartedly. It's incredible sf.

Graeme Flory said...

A little tweeting has since revealed that I could probably jump into 'Empty Space' and not get too lost. It has since become a 'sooner rather than later' read :o)

Thanks for the recommendation though! I've got plenty to read at the moment but I will have to check out 'Light' at some point.

Liesel K Hill said...

Sorry don't know anything about this series, but based on the synopsis I kind of want to! :D If you read it, let us know how you like it! I'd be interested to know! :D

Niall Alexander said...

Be my test subject, then? :)

If you can find something to like about it, without having read either Light or Nova Swing... I'm in.

Graeme Flory said...

I've got a couple of books that I want to read first but... you're on :o)

Anonymous said...

I have read both light and nova swing. light i have read 2wice and on second reading the story makes a lot more sense. in fact light is one of the few books i have read twice. nova swing is good. reads quite a lot like an updated version of ' a roadside picnic.'
but i for one am really really looking forward to empty space!

philiph35 said...

I have not bought Empty Space yet but I looked at the beginning on Amazon. The first chapter is about a character from "Light" and there are references to another major character from that book. I feel that you get more out of the first few pages if you know who Michael is and what his disappearance was about - the chapter in "Light" which describes this is one of the most moving and awesome bits of prose I know. Chapter 2 looks as if it contains references to "Nova Swing" too as there are references to a ship of that name but I have not read this yet - plan to before I read "Empty Space".

I doubt it is strictly necessary but I would read the books in order. "Light" in any event is so wonderful that you will not lose by reading it. I doubt the new book will be incomprehensible without a knowledge of the other two but I am sure it will be greatly enriched, the more you know about the common background to the three books.