This book has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time. After finally getting through Stephen King’s Lisey’s Story (which turned out to be pretty good despite the fact that he spent most of the time undercutting his characters and telling the reader how someone else referred to something, e.g., “that’s what daddy would call it”) I decided to completely shift gears and try something nowhere related.
That is easy to do since I prefer to stay in the realm of the fantastical whether science fiction, fantasy, tall tales, horror (not as much of a fan as when I was a child).
So I picked this up off the shelf a few days ago. This isn’t really a review since I am only on page 85 (and those few readers here (and I do mean a few) know I don’t really do reviews – it gives it away!).
This man can write. He’s a straightforward writer not prone to Lafferty stylistic flourishes, but he is a vivid, well researched (have your dictionary ready) writer. And by that means he thrusts you into the story.
SPOILERS – Ya, get one warning child.
The story follows a medieval priest in a small German village at the edge of the Black Forest. There is a great disturbance early one morning before the sun rises. Electricity erupts between pieces of metal, fires break out and a great blast of wind wrecks havoc on the town. The priest, a former student of Buridan (thank you, Mr. Flynn for reminding me whose ass that was! I remember the ass’s problem, but not the man) has a flock that is bound up in the superstitions of the time while he was brought up on the rigors of logic in Paris.
The disturbance in the forest that rent the town in the wee morning hours is the crash of a spaceship. The discovery of the ship by the priest and the soldier was so well done, so vivid, and, therefore, so believable. You felt like you were right there in the two character’s milieu, that you also were one of them peering down at these beings. They didn’t even conceive of them being aliens from another planet. The soldier thinks they are demons, the priest guesses they must be from a far, far, away land.
Another timeline in the book, the present time, has a researcher who is trying to determine what caused the complete disappearance of a small German village in the 14th century called Eifelheim. Of course it is the village that had the alien visitors. It seems there is evidence of the village up to a certain date, then nothing and the name of the village changed after it ceased to exist. There is a whole chapter, with great dialogue that explains the problem without boring the reader with technical detail. It is more technical than the lame explanation I just gave.
Eifelheim was a finalist for the Hugo award in 2007. It lost to Vernor Vinge’s Rainbow’s End. I have not read that particular book by Vinge, but it is certainly no disgrace to come behind him.
With such a set up as Eifelheim has, it would take a very clumsy writer to mess the rest of the book up. But I think this will go very well, Flynn is the sort of writer that makes you feel like you’re being led by competent hands.