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31 October 2006 @ 09:16 am
 
The books I've got from the library recently have been a bit hit & miss ... there were a couple last week that I felt at the end that that was an hour of my life I wasn't getting back (I've forgotten what they were already). "Conflagration" by Mick Farren didn't quite fall into that category - I found some of the plot reasonably interesting. Well, more the back story - it's in an alternate universe, but I hesitate to say "alternate history" because it doesn't really seem to have the single decision point that made the difference, but more a collection of 'things didn't quite work out the way they did in our universe'. And I suspect if I was more up on US pop culture of the 60s I'd've recognised a few more names than I did - the only really obvious one was Jack Kennedy, still top politician in the US equivalent, still recognisably hitting the right bullet points to be JFK. Which of course is part of the problem - if the divergences start a couple of millenia ago (Christianity never quite took off to the extent that it did in this world, it's refered to as the 'Jesu Cult', so that gives an indication of how long ago the changes are) then why would his name be the same? Why would he be the same sort of person? Particularly given the world around him is so very different. But that's possibly a bit of a purist attitude to alternate universes on my part ;)

Unfortunately that wasn't my only problem with the book. I found the four viewpoint characters rather hard to tell apart - thankfully each section was headed by a character name, and once I knew what each person was doing it got easier, but it still felt a bit like one person in 4 places rather than 4 people. Also some of the plot seemed a bit too shallow and coincidental - there's a big reveal of someone as an enemy agent, and it happens because she gets her paranormal shielding messed up a bit and encapsulates herself & the enemy leader so they can't see out rather than others can't see in. So one of our heroines spots her & captures her!! I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop & it to turn out to be the other (non-heroine, non-enemy agent) person in the room having set up an illusion, as everyone believed it so easily despite having known & trusted enemy-agent-girl for longer than the heroine. But no, it was at face value.
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