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WARNING, WHOPPING SPOILERS AHEAD. I write these pages as notes, records and reminders to myself of books I have read. You are welcome to peruse these reviews, but be warned that they will spoil your reading pleasure if you have not already read them.
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Jocasta   by Brian Aldiss

Read: 2005-10-11 Reviewed: 2006-01-28
Re-read factor:

A very self-conscious re-telling of a Greek play, the outcome is already known, and there are really no surprises, which is in itself a surprise because the book describes a universe of mythical monsters (some kept as pets) and magical spells; against that backdrop the characters exhibit signs of atheisticism though being unable to suspend entirely their morbid fears of the gods.

There are loads of voices crop up: the author gives a chapter to himself, the fictitous author shows up first as a ghost, then as a real character (in the modern world), then as the voice of his dreams; these are confounded by the narrative voice and the voices of the main characters themselves add to the noise. None of the voices give much description of the surroundings, or of the emotions and feelings of the characters; the book is almost entirely descriptions of people's actions, or their sayings. Like a Hollywood movie, the book does not hesitate to make a chronological jump whenever it is convenient.

It turns out that the whole thing is a dream of a man on death row hours from being executed. I seriously doubt he would have been able to sleep at all myself, but supposing he did, it makes for one of those stories which I hate that can basically turn anyway it wants at any moment. It also explains something of the nature of the work, but in the final analysis just having someone wake up from a dream spoils it for me.

After having thought retrospectively about the book (mostly for the purpose of writing this review), things do actually make a lot of sense, and it does after all come across as a pretty intelligent book. Bottom line is it is not a subject matter which really interests me and the writing is not very absorbing.

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