Counting Heads

Apr 24, 16:59 by IROSF
Thread for the discussion of David Marusek's book or Ian McHugh's review.

The review itself is here.
Apr 24, 18:24 by Bluejack
Ian,

I just finished this book myself, and although many of your criticisms did not occur to me as I read, they do help me understand why I was disatisfied with the book.

Counting Heads was packed with big ideas, had marvellous writing, and left me feeling... ho hum.

A few additional points:

* I didn't find the ending to be quite as much of a non-ending as you did -- I did think the central problem reached satisfactory resolution. But I agree that there were a lot of threads left open.

* Particularly the character of the pre-pubescent boy. Ultimately, he never had any important part to play in the story, and I was left wondering what the whole point of him was.

* Additionally, our non-standard Russ clone. He was the most interesting character in the second phase of the book, and he had no real resolution at all. Moreover, the pedophilia angle seemed to come totally out of nowhere and to have no real value other than one extremely minor plot twist.

* Speaking of plot twists, the final tangle of twists in the clinic pretty nearly lost me. In the final fifty pages of the book I was just wishing he would finish already.

* Special agreement on the ineffectual priest. I supposed he was supposed to be the character who, in his ignorance, gives the author an opportunity to explain some stuff to us, but his character never came together for me, and he certainly wasn't fun to read about. I hadn't quite picked up on the absences in the story (religion, third world) that you did, but you're dead on.

I like your thought about skipping the intro novella entirely, but I'm not sure I agree... not given that the story really is a continuation of at least one of the original characters. However, I might alternate-reality it this way: I think Counting Heads might have been better if it hadn't been a continuation of the novella at all, but rather been composed as an entirely new entity.
   

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