OgresGenres: Science Fiction Pages:
Ogres are bigger than you. Ogres are stronger than you. Ogres rule the world.
It’s always idyllic in the village until the landlord comes to call.
Because the landlord is an Ogre. And Ogres rule the world, with their size and strength and appetites. It’s always been that way. It’s the natural order of the world. And they only eat people sometimes.
But when the headman’s son, Torquell, dares lift his hand against the landlord’s son, he sets himself on a path to learn the terrible truth about the Ogres, and about the dark sciences that ensured their rule.
I found Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Ogres took me a surprising amount of time to read, despite the length of the book. It’s a pretty unpleasant place to be, in a very believably human way — one which I don’t always care to spend my leisure time dwelling on.
I did enjoy the sting in the tail of the story. I hadn’t worked out who the narrator was (if indeed it was anyone important), so that was interesting. I like second-person POV when it’s done well, though I know others hate it, and I think it was… okay, here. Sometimes it didn’t feel right, when it dug too much into the interior life of Torquell, but mostly I thought it worked. If it’s a pet peeve of yours, though, this won’t be for you.
It all feels a little simplified and fable-like — a political fable, told with serious bias (and intentionally so; I don’t mean that I’m accusing Tchaikovsky of anything here, I’m talking about it as an in-world object).
Altogether, enjoyably put together, but not something I entirely enjoyed the experience of reading.
And Put Away Childish Things, Adrian Tchaikovsky
Received to review via Netgalley
In the end, And Put Away Childish Things didn’t really work for me. In part, probably because I’m not actually that cynical and I still like the idea of Narnia and don’t want to think about a Narnia-like world getting all gross and run down. And sure, the main character isn’t actually meant to be likeable, as far as I can tell, but all the same, I don’t like him and I don’t like reading about him.
As a result, I was only mildly engaged with the story, and thus it never came together for me at all. I think there are some neat ideas — Tchaikovsky usually has those! It’s just all a bit grim, and the unpleasant main character never appreciably wises up, and the most interesting characters are all kind of on the side.
Not for me, though I’m confident others will love it.
Elder Race, Adrian Tchaikovsky
Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 16th November 2021
Elder Race is pretty classic in the way it plays with the whole idea that “any sufficiently advanced technology looks like magic”, but it mixes in some new ingredients (at least, so far as I know) through the fact that the main character is clinically depressed. The character uses a sort of brain-interface to push his emotions back, and the way this helps and hinders his functioning helps give the plot a bit more breathing room.
The two main characters are Nyr, an anthropologist from Earth, and Lynesse, the fourth daughter of a local ruler in a population originally seeded from Earth and long settled down. Nyr’s people came to the planet to observe the way these old colonies, born from generation ships, developed and persisted — but now Nyr’s own people have gone silent, and he’s the only one left. He’s a bad anthropologist, tempted too easily to meddle in local affairs, and a few generations ago he had a brief love affair with one of Lynesse’s ancestors. Even when he returned to the outpost to go into stasis awaiting responses from Earth, he told her she or her descendants could call on him for help. Lynesse’s love of old stories means she knows exactly what to do when a strange demonic pestilence troubles nearby lands — she climbs up to the outpost and calls on the old agreement.
The chapters alternate point of view between the two of them in a way that mostly works, highlighting the difficulties in translation and mindset between Nyr and Lynesse; each chapter sheds more light on interactions in the chapter before, painting a full picture. Nyr’s clinical depression is kind of hard to read about, to be honest, but the fact that he has the brain interface that can just turn off those feelings makes for some interesting dilemmas and misunderstandings.
In the end, it was a bit of a downer, but there’s a touch of hope at the end, and I thought it executed the central ideas really well.