Book Review: The Caryatids – Bruce Sterling

The Caryatids by Bruce Sterling

The Caryatids by Bruce Sterling

I’m a fan of Sterling’s work, and I hate to say this, but this is just very, very poor.

There’s no plot. It was never at all clear what the main conflict of the book is supposed to be, and although the POV jumps around there wasn’t a single character sympathetic enough for me to care about, much less consider an interesting or worthy protagonist. None of the main characters seems to have any ethical code or system at all, nor do they “grow” at all, or seem to learn anything in the story. For that matter, neither did I.

There was apparently little if any editing, and zero proof-reading… spelling was fine,
but grammar in some parts was both tortured and torture to read. There were
sentences which were obviously missing words- as in, verbs or subjects. Several
sections were repetitious to the point of having two successive paragraphs
saying the same thing with different wording, as though they had been rewritten
without removing the draft version, and there were several obvious continuity
mistakes, some so glaring that they made it difficult to concentrate on anything
else. For instance, in one sentence a dancer is referred to as “barefoot”, and
in almost the next sentence she has “slippered feet”… neither condition having
anything to do with the plot. Like the visible zipper on the back of a monster
costume in a bad movie, these obvious mistakes give the strong impression that
nobody involved really cared at all.

If that weren’t bad enough, the
scenario of the future is the “More Politically Correct Than Thou Standard
Man-Made Environmental Cataclysm #1” complete with preachy guilt-trip lectures,
and the eventual “resolution” is about as satisfying and relevant as “and then
they were all run over by a truck, or maybe not, the end”. By the time I reached
the last 25 pages, and it was clear the story just wasn’t going to redeem
itself, I was rather hoping they WOULD all just die. I was ready to help
personally.

The ending, such as it was, takes the form of both an
epilogue AND an afterword, giving the impression that the book was really a
shortish rough-draft with no ending that had one hurriedly tacked on just to get
it out the door.

Sometimes an author gets to the point where those doing
business with him find it’s not worth trying to improve the product, on the
assumption that ANYTHING with his name on it will sell… and this IS
“anything”.

Unfortunately, that starts the pendulum going the other
direction.. and I will be reading a lot of reviews before buying Sterling’s next
book. It won’t be an impulse buy based on just the author’s name again.

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About peterschow

"the Schow must go on"
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