41 Down 11 Left (52 Books, 52 Weeks)

Arthur C. Clarke is one of my personal heroes, and the Rama series is one of the more intelligent alien encounter stories you’ll find out there. Gentry Lee is the (true blue) rocket scientist who co-wrote the last 3 Rama books with Clarke. Seeing as to how he was directly involved in the Mars Viking project among others, you’d think he’d be a hard science kind of guy in this solo outing.

Unfortunately, Bright Messengers has about as much hard science as Spongebob Squarepants. Oh, the book’s fine for the first 200 or so pages, as Lee sets up the story with principal characters, Sister Bernice from the Order of St. Michael and Johann Eberhardt, a German systems engineer. To save you the suspense, they get posted to Mars, board an alien spacecraft along with a cast of extraneous but Benetton-approved crew members and get to some big, white globe where the 2 principals are prodded on some trip while the rest conveniently get written out of the picture.

Somehow, through some wondrous alien (or divine) design, the 2 of them experience Hiroshima, the Holocaust and other Great Human Tragedies. They’re eventually stranded on some island where all their needs are provided for and their main problem is trying not to fuck on account of Sister Bernice’s vow of chastity.

Subtlety is not Lee’s greatest strengh. It’s pretty obvious Sister Bernice represents all that is spiritual and divine about Mankind while Johann is the logical, systemic side. He’s German, remember. The whole setup is just cock, having the two debate divinity while trying to save German Jews from concentration camps or radiation-burnt Japanese. It gets worse when he throws a villain into the mix. Conveniently, the bad guy’s a brilliant Muslim engineer who’s a walking caricature of misogyny, calling every woman he sees cunt or bitch – basically rape on legs. So eventually, the evil Muslim dies and Johann sees the light, and Bernice gets all saint-like. The worst thing is there’s a sequel.

I don’t know what kind of Jesus juice Gentry Lee was on when he wrote this steaming pile of turd, but I bet Arthur C. Clarke was high out of his head on some good shit when he approved it. Don’t touch this book with a ten-foot pole.

Bright Messengers
(ISBN No: 0553573292) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

My next book will be Terry Pratchett’s Going Postal.

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3 Responses to “41 Down 11 Left (52 Books, 52 Weeks)”


  1. 1 Ivan Chew November 4, 2006 at 21:29

    Aiyah, if only you didn’t use 4-letter words, I’d have linked this post to High Browse Online. I’m serious. I would! đŸ™‚

  2. 2 billy November 4, 2006 at 23:42

    its ok lah, already been linked before. u mean can say jesus juice meh?

  3. 3 Ivan Chew November 8, 2006 at 1:15

    I don’t see how it is deemed offensive. It depends on context but we can always run by a few people to get second opinions. I really like this review, so hope you can edit a PG version for us.


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