Thursday, September 28, 2017

36. West of the Sun by Edgar Pangborn

Lost in the mists of time is the source of my original reason for adding Edgar Pangborn's Davy to my paperback hunting list I keep in my wallet.  I found West of the Sun in Victoria and though it wasn't Davy, it is the first Edgar Pangborn I had found, so I decided to buy it.  I read it and respected, but not sure if I should keep Davy on my list.

Based on this single novel, I feel I can say that Pangborn is a good writer, intelligent and thoughtful.  However, I am not sure if he is really to my style.  The story take place in the early 21st century. Earth sends out an exploratory ship and the book begins when that ship finds a livable planet  Unfortunately the ship crashes and the crew has to consider living there forever.  It is divided into 3 parts: the initial landing. 1 year later and 10 years later.  It reminded me a lot of Earth Abides.  Much of the story is interacting with the local flora and fauna and meeting the intelligent life (of which there are two kinds, cannibalistic warrior pigmies and super chill solitary ape creatures).  Much of, though, is about the crew themselves and how they are going to try and start a new human society while interacting with and developing the existing creatures.

The Prime Directive is definitely violated here, as they bring language and tools and just generally make a massive impact on the part of the planet they landed on.  It's an interesting story and a thoughtful exploration of what would be the challenges of landing on and surviving in another world.  There is also, unfortunately for me, a lot of long conversations about theories of civlization, much of it in that weird early 60s language that always seems trying to hard to be poetic and clever.  I found it particularly annoying that when the natives learn english, they speak it like some upper middle class housewife in a John D. MacDonald suburban thriller.  Basically, the ratio of story and characters to ideas about society was way too low for me.

These are my pet peeves and I will still keep an eye out for Davy, but I waver.

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