Saturday, January 28, 2012
The Wanderer by Fritz Leiber
Another Hugo-winner. An earth size planet appears suddenly from hyperspace close to the moon and causes catastrophe all around the earth with its’ tidal forces. Soon it starts to dismantle the moon.
The events are followed from multiple viewpoints in typical disaster novel style. The book has a lot of characters from around the world and for someone like me who has extremely poor memory for names it was kind of hard to keep track of all of them, as transitions weren’t always very clear. Also, somehow the worldwide destruction didn’t really come out as powerfully as it could have come, as many of the character spent a lot time discussing subjects sometimes only tangentially connected with the disaster. The action perked up somewhat when the aliens appeared, but they played too little role to really rise the book to the higher standard. The attitudes and roles of the males and females were very old-fashionable which gave very dated feel for the book overall. Especially the beginning was fairly slow and the large cast of characters made reading pretty heavy. Much more interesting story might have been the aftermath of the catastrophe and possible contact with the super advanced aliens.
One reason why this book won the Hugo might be that some of the characters in the book were science fiction readers and several sf authors were name checked, among them Robert Heinlein and (naturally, when you are talking about entire planets which move through hyperspace) Doc Smith. Otherwise the win isn’t one of the easiest to understand and this book is clearly a below average Hugo winner. It is also perhaps the worst book I have ever read by Fritz Leiber.