Monday, July 4, 2016

Book Review: Algorithm

Book Review: 'Algorithm' by Jean Mark Gawron

0 / 5 Stars

‘Algorithm’(211 pp) was published by Berkley Books in 1978. The cover artist is uncredited but appears to be Paul Alexander.

Jean Mark Gawron (b. 1953) is U.S. sf writer who published three novels during the 70s and early 90s.

According to dates provided at the end of the novel, author Garwon wrote ‘Algorithm’ during 1973 and 1976, which explains a lot; namely, the book’s overindulgence in the worst aspects of the New Wave’s prose stylings.

I’ve read quite a few really bad New Wave era sf novels, and ‘Agorithm’ is one of the worst. It’s so bad that after several efforts to read it, I gave up. I never finished it.

‘Algorithm’s plot is superficial; is apparently deals with a near-future America in which assassination is a sport that is highly covered by the media. The primary goal of this novel is not to entertain, but rather, to demonstrate the author’s use of Speculative Fiction to Conduct Profound Explorations of the Nature of Language, and Human Self-Identity.

Most of the narrative wallows in the figurative, metaphor- and simile-drenched prose favored by Speculative Fiction writers of the New Wave era, like Samuel R. Delaney (apparently ‘Algorithm’ is Gawron’s homage to Delaney) and to non-genre writers like Thomas Pynchon, John Barth, and Kurt Vonnegut.

Reading ‘Algorithm’ means you’re going to have to wade through these types of passages:

"One day you’ll pay for those excesses. Besides, your execrable decadence has caused you to overlook possibly the most interesting item of all. Tom Bremmer the Deullist. His report is a horrified survey of the assassin’s effect on his profession. Bremmer, as you probably don’t know, is the lord high muck-a-muck pacifist, who will only do violence for others, never for his own gain. He is admirably appalled at the 200% increase in cyborg duelist overhauls, and the 750 % rise in professionally associated duels in general…."


Fear sheened his vision of the giantess that first day when, her victimhood first declared, she betrayed a chilling delight. And why ? When he watched there was fear. When he was seen there was nothing.

The fire still flung wobbling light into this first bubble of rock, wove shadows ahead of them, dashed ocher up rounded walls. There was a downgrade tilted level by the prankster light and Danton’s first step missed and he skidded, gasping, ahead of the Juggler.

[A lengthy review of ‘Algorithm’ that is just as incoherent as the novel itself can be access at this link.]

The verdict ? Only the most fervent of New Wave fans are going to even want to contemplate, in a vague and detached way, trying to read this novel. Indeed, its main value to the genre is to illuminate just how bad things were in the years before the advent of cyberpunk................

1 comment:

Uriah said...

Well said. These overrated New Wave books are a disaster. I have a couple of Delaney books and they are impossible to read. The whole genre is founded on purple prose and psycho-babble.