I'd read many of the decidedly mixed reviews before I purchased this, so I was prepared for a mediocre novel. But I've really enjoyed Wilson's other works and gave this a shot. I'm glad I did. I think some of the other reviewers were thrown off by the title and cover photo, which make it seem like this is a book along the lines of "Land of the Lost". It's really not that at all. This isn't about live dinosaurs. It's more of a grand space/time philosophic work. If you read with an open mind, it holds up well. It has Wilson's usual strengths e.g. professional writing, realistic relationships and outcomes, and a slightly melancholic tone.
The work hasn't haunted me as much as some of his others e.g. Chronoliths and I would've like more detail on the "alien" civilization. But I read it in two days straight, which is why I settled on four stars.
Mr. Robert Charles Wilson has managed a rather unique feat in the genre, he has, to a point, imagined something new. Themes of course will be common but Wilson has dreamt up a new way to spin a tale. Again I am impressed. I would have given this book five stars had there not been what I felt to be a couple of slight issues with the flow of the story. It seemed as though Mr. Wilson was not quite sure what to do with the character Vale. He could not decide whether to write him out of the story or leave him in. Develop Vale or let him live and die a brief appearance. In a book as superb as this, I did not enjoy having to read around a clumsy character.
I enjoyed Wilson's "Spin" and "Blind Lake" sufficiently to buy "Darwinia" without diving into any reviews, and I was not disappointed.
Told with a fine ear for dialogue, "Darwinia: A Novel of a Very Different Twentieth Century", starts off with the feel of a solid science based novel, but subtly segues into something altogether darker and mysterious.
So we get an alternative universe story, but one that lies somewhere close to our own, such that events for our timeline (WWI for example) fold over as ghosts in the Darwinia universe. Our very reluctant hero, Guilford Law, becomes embroiled in events way beyond the mortal ken as his lust for exploration pulls him out of reach of his wife and child, and ultimately it...
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