Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Blame!, v.1

by Tsutomu Nihei
Published in the U.S. by Tokyopop

Slugline: Aggresively cryptic, far-future science fiction action. Killy, who is appropriately named, is looking for genes in a dying world.

This is a more difficult title to review. If you consider the four building blocks of a story -- plot, characters, dialog and worldbuilding -- Blame! does not make for an easy read. There is not much dialog. There is even less characterization. And the writer feels no need at all to explain the plot or the world it happens in.

If you like to see things go boom (mostly heads and squishy things) then you might find a little entertainment here.

Killy is looking for genes. After a couple hundred pages, that and a small handful of tangentially related facts are all I have, as a reader. I also have about a million possible theories about the backdrop of all this killing and violence, but very little to hang them on.

There are branches of science fiction prose which operate in a similar way, they force the reader to supply the worldbuilding and put a great deal of thought into what sort of architecture can support the facade the writer presents. Done well, such stories can send you down unexpected paths of thought. (One title which does this well is Girls, by Joshua and Jonathan Luna. Slugline: A small American town is suddenly attacked by naked women who do not talk. And then it gets weirder, but what the reader knows is strictly limited to what the characters know. Which is just about nothing. Website link Amazon link)

Not done well, the reader's left with "WTF?"

Blame! is right on the edge of WTF, for me. The question is, would I want to spend money on another 200-plus pages that could give me the clues to make a pattern I can see, or could just be more WTF.

- Miranda

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