22 May 2012

Lavie Tidhar, Cloud Permutations, 2010

I can't resist something as unusual as science fiction that’s rooted in the cultures and language of the Pacific Islands – I don’t believe Bislama appears anywhere else on my bookshelves. Lavie Tidhar’s premise for Cloud Permutations is interesting too: on a colony world that has its cultural boundaries defined by clouds, Kal, a boy who want to fly, finds himself pulled onto a quest to find out the truth about his planet Heven and the colonists’ lost history. The novel comes in three parts all of which are interesting in different ways from the set-up to the sensawunda resolution, however it’s the second part that somehow feels the weakest because it seems to aspire to being nothing above and beyond a simple young-adult adventure, yet the first and third parts achieve much more so admirably. Tidhar has also crammed many familiar SF themes into this work; the end result is very good but it still left me wishing he had somehow gone deeper and explored Kal’s understanding of what he is discovering, something that seems to be consciously left out in order to preserve the novel’s central mystery. Certainly this is a highly original science fiction novella, but it’s also one that left me needing a little more than I was given.  PY


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