A Legend of the Future, Agustín de Rojas
I originally received this to review via Netgalley, but took so long about it, I ended up picking it up in a shop. I’m actually not really sure what to make of it: on the one hand I found it engaging, but on the other I found the way it was set out maddening. I don’t know if this issue was deliberate, present in the original, introduced in translation, or a result of some typesetting issue, but scene breaks were several times completely elided so that one scene slid into the next and you only realised because one character was saying something that didn’t make sense in the context of the previous conversation. This happened enough to be completely confusing, rather than just happening once or twice. The other thing is that thoughts are denoted in the exact same way as speech, so you never know if a character is saying something aloud or just thinking it.
Awkwardness of language I’m quite prepared to put down to the issue of translation, and also the fact that the original was written in a wholly different context to modern SF. But combined with the layout issues, I found it frustrating.
On the other hand, the story is interesting, featuring the slow psychological breakdown of a crew as they must adjust to the fact that they won’t make it home, that one of them has to be hooked up to a computer and another is turned into a human calculating machine. The beginning doesn’t work as well as I’d like, because you don’t already have the emotional connection to give it impact, but I can’t see how else the book could sensibly be structured. There is quite a bit of exposition delivered by dialogue, which can be annoying — but I do wonder if part of that is different literary conventions.
The final chapters, the resolution of the story, also tell us why the title is A Legend of the Future. It’s an excellent ending, to my mind; wrapping things up with just enough uncertainty left that you’re not sure exactly what happened, what is real and what is hallucinated and suggested…
When I read the first few sections, I wasn’t much impressed, but my interest grew as I kept on — I think it rewards the effort.