19 Followers
24 Following
altheaann

altheaann

Currently reading

A Creature of Moonlight
Rebecca Hahn
Saffron And Brimstone: Strange Stories
Elizabeth Hand
Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
Lois McMaster Bujold
Snow in May: Stories
Kseniya Melnik

Assignment Nor'Dyren

Assignment Nor'Dyren - Sydney J. Van Scyoc This book was really a huge disappointment. I've read (nearly?) all of VanScyoc's published work, and her 'Darkchild' trilogy is one of my all-time favorites. Admittedly, this was one of her first novels, but it's really just not very good.
The protagonist, Tollan Bailey, is an Earthman who lives in a place where labor unions have made sure that everyone has a cushy position and works very little for a comfortable life. He's not happy with this, because he has a "Protestant Work Ethic."
A random lottery sends him to a planet on a supposed assignment, which he is expected to treat as a vacation. Instead, he takes the job seriously, and ends up trying to solve the problem on a stagnant alien culture.
The problem here is not just the unoriginal theme of "Ingenious Earthman to the Rescue!", or that the "alien" culture functions only as a clunky allegory of our society, or the weird bashing of labor unions and artistic personalities (ok, we need them, but they have to be kept in check), but the character of the protagonist.
The whole time, I was like, "whoa, this guy needs some anger management classes!" His immediate reaction to anything is to lose his temper. (whether he's winning a contest or having his luggage searched in a routine customs check, he's always about to assault someone.) And the book treats this as normal. It's never even acknowledged, let alone addressed. He's crazily, horribly sexist, with rigid ideas about gender roles. The book dismisses this as "part of Human culture" even though the Human woman who's a character in the book doesn't really fit these stereotypes. Possibly worst, the conflict in the book arises when Tollan, in an accident, kills a citizen of the planet he's visiting. Absolutely no sympathy for the victim is had by anyone - the only focus is on how unfair it is to blame him for something that was an accident. OK, fine. It was an accident. But still, how about a smidgin of empathy for another sentient being!?
Overall, it's just really a very problematic book.