Monday, February 8, 2010

Readings — Footfall

by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle

This is not by any honest reckoning a good book. But that’s almost okay; I’ve never read anything more cheerfully disinterested in being a good book. This is a book that wants to tell a story about humanoid elephants invading the Earth, and by God that’s what you’re going to get, complete with heroic Americans, rugged survivalists, group-thinking commies, and at least one plucky military heroine struggling with her own sexuality. So, you know, it is what it is, and it burbles along with unflagging narrative drive, and it ends when the bad guys are defeated, and not one moment past that.

The characters are bland and undistinguishable. There’s an attempt at providing a cross-section of (American) society reacting to the invasion; now that we’re in the twenty-first century, and all, it’s striking how thoroughly white (and Northern-European white) that cross-section is. The prose isn’t engaging enough to really keep your interest on its own, but Niven and Pournelle are experienced and professional enough that it never really becomes bad enough to drive you away. The plot is sharp, but there’s something of a lack of real science-fictional sense of wonder. Overall, though, the book does what it does. If you’re looking for a pleasant, undemanding tale of alien invasion, and don’t care if you’re reading a good book or not, this is the one for you.

1 comment:

Stu Crump said...

It was only a matter of time before the way we treated the Elephant Man came back to bite us in the ass.