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The Otherhood

by Lytchcov Zammana

(Millennial Mind Publishing, $18.00 US, 340 pages, paperback, published 2001.)

I only managed to read 87 pages of this, then started cover scanskimming to see if it picked up, but it didn't seem to. The plot might be quite interesting, although as of p87 the SF ideas have all been done before, but the writing makes it leaden. Stylistically, it is a pastiche of the blockbuster, rather than SF, stuff like Robert Ludlum, Eric van Lustbader, even Jeffrey Archer. I can't read that stuff either and this isn't as well crafted. The writing usually tells rather than showing, it is also often repetitive and employs cliché. There are too many paragraphs that do not advance the plot or enhance the setting. Some of the small points of writing are handled sloppily and the writing can be uneconomical to the point of tedium. It is never dreadful, but it is routinely a bit substandard. For example:

"Abe Jenkins had a nose for trouble, and he smelled it as he stuck his head out the small rectangular window of his thirty-ton locomotive. The wind caught his gray hair and it streamed back into the night. He could feel it, transmitted from the vibrating tracks to his experienced hand as it rested easily on the forward-reverse lever: trouble." (p23)

The next paragraph reveals Abe knows that he is driving the train too fast, so his nasal intuition is unconvincing if not pointless (he crashes too). The 'its' in the paragraph are slightly problematic, particularly the third one. Some of what is being conveyed could be conveyed more economically and some of it is unnecessary. Abe dies 13 paragraphs later and we learn nothing else about him, except that he understandably tried to brake the train. A name and gray hair that streams in the wind don't construct a character. Why did he stick his head out of the window anyway? Small points yes, but I have not cherry picked one of the worst paragraphs I could find. It all gets tiring to read.

Zammana thanks his editor, nonetheless the book needed a serious rewrite before it was published. Writing is not easy.

Review by Richard Hammersley.

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