Fremder — Russell Hoban

Well, this is a strange little fellow. Nominally a sci-fi book and full of the vaguely scientific sounding terminology that’s just obscure enough to appear believable in the half light, it’s slightly un-nerving to find this speaking more frequently of darkness and terrors un-named than owt else. A navigator is found floating in the 4K cold of deep space sans spacesuit, the only survivor of a ‘flicker jump’ which has vanished the rest of the crew and the ship into somewhere else, or perhaps nowhere. How did he survive?

Much of your time spent with this book will consist of re-reading passages trying to work out what the Dickens is supposed to be going on, what the relevance of it is and where it’s heading. If you’re anything like me you’ll fail utterly at these tasks, but not mind too much as it’s written with an oddly lulling flow of prose that I’d almost consider pretentious, if I didn’t suspect with some part of my mind that it’s just been written by someone who’s cleverer than I am.

Its succinct length means that it isn’t around for quite long enough to fully make my mind up on that issue, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt. I can’t honestly call it an enjoyable read, but it’s certainly an interesting one and rather different from the usual fare.