The Scourge of God: A Novel of the Change Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. This vivid sequel to 2007's The Sunrise Lands opens in 2021, a generation after the Change that brought magic back into the world and made electric and explosive power inoperative. New post-industrial societies have risen, some seeking to restore technology and some celebrating its demise. One of the latter is the Church Universal and Triumphant, a group of genocidal Luddites with a prophetic theology that is more Dark Ages than New Age. Clan leader Rudi MacKenzie frequently butts heads with the Cutters and their Prophet as he struggles to cross the devastated Eastern Death Zones and reach Nantucket Island, birthplace of the Change, where he hopes to understand and perhaps reverse the replacement of technology with myth and magic. Stirling (The Sunrise Lands) eloquently describes a devastated, mystical world that will appeal to fans of traditional fantasy as well as post-apocalyptic SF. (Sept.)
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"Stirling is a perfect master of keep-them-up-all-night pacing, possibly the best in American sf." ---Booklist Starred ReviewSee all Product Description
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While the first novels were about survival and war and the Earth's rise of the nerds (Witches with pretend Irish/Scot accents, people that believe they're elves from a Tolkien novel and recreationists are the new leaders), "The Scourge of God" is about Spiritual beliefs, prophets and messiah's. Stirling seems to be taking a page right from Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Now that man can again feed himself, he is searching for spirit and a reason for being. The world is beginning to change into a place of magic. Does the magic create the new beliefs and Gods, or does the belief itself create the magic? We don't know yet, but it will be interesting to find Stirlings views on this in his upcoming novels.
I found the "Scourge of God" to be a great read with plenty of action and hints at things to come. I anxiously await Stirlings next novel of the change.
The story seems unevenly paced; there will be a LONG description of, say, the craft of scouting (similar to a number of passages we've already read in previous books) and then a dramatic plot event will be all but skipped over. For example, a character is killed while in the care of one group of our story's protagonists. Yet, when the protagonists rejoin the family of the dead character (whose death causes a good bit of anguish on the part of a main character), presumably there is a dramatic interchange between these two - the sad telling of the news, the family's reaction, etc. But as far as the text is concerned, the two groups merely reassemble, serenely spend a little more time together, and then part ways again.
While Stirling has clearly thought out what a post-technological society might become, I have a quibble with a few of the conclusions he has reached - namely, that all morally good, intelligent people will come to the same conclusions. All the splinter groups - the people who take on the trappings of Ancient Greece, the Wiccans, etc - they fall deeply into these identities, even those who were adults at the time of the Change. I just don't see how this would be natural - for a modern, contemporary person to become, in 22 years, a peplos-wearing person who swears by Minerva and Jupiter, or a plaid-wearing person who thinks of the Lady and devoutly follows Wiccan practices. Maybe the attire makes sense, and I can see how the people born after the Change, or those who were kids, would buy completely into the splinter society's identity, but for those who were adults and became adults in our contemporary society? I don't see that kind of thing being so fluid. Also, I find it odd that people everywhere in this new, splintered remnant of our current world - where there is no real long distance communication, and no more common society (what with all the tribal identity stuff) use the same terms to refer to certain things - 'the Change', 'the Eaters'. Common sense says that there would be different terms for these. Even today, with mass worldwide communication, the events of Sept. 11 are referred to in a number of different ways - '9-11', 'the WTC bombing', 'September 11th', '911', etc. But in Changeverse, everybody everywhere uses the same terms.
The author does have a boundless imagination. This IS an interesting series, but I give Scourge of God 3 stars as it feels like a place holder to me. I don't mind the fantasy elements (the demonic possession, the hint of extraterrestrial interest in Earth as a cause of the Change, etc). I will almost certainly read the rest of the books, but am keenly hoping that this series isn't stretched out much more than it has been already.
"Long tables were set out buffet-style, with chefs in white hats waiting to carve the roasts and hams; whole yearling steers and pigs and lamb roasted over firepits behind them, the attendants slathering them with fiery sauce wielding their long-handled brushes like the forks of devils in the Christian hell."
The writing is flowery, with long, complex sentences hiding much ado about little, as our heroes, who call themselves such, make their way, mostly on horseback, across a vast continent once peopled by a homogeneous citizenry, but now inhabited by cannibals, remnants calling themselves the United States government, local dictators, religious fanatics, devils and gods.
That's enough of that. This series started, years ago in real time, as science fiction. It is now irretrievably fantasy. Or if it's not, the author has me completely fooled. The protagonists are on their way to Nantucket Island (remember that original series?) and, at the rate they are going based on the map in the front of the book, there are at least one or two more travelogs masquerading as novels to go before they get there. And then they have to find their way back.
Sterling's imagination is almost without living peer, I'll give him that, but things used to happen in his novels.
I've read all the books in this series because I like apocalyptic genre and enjoyed the storyline at first. But Stirling has jumped the shark with this volume. The 450 pages of this book do nothing at all to advance the plot and Stirling's visceral need to describe how his characters and battle scenes smell-- the metallic smell of blood, the acrid smell of perspiration mingled with the stench of fear -- is redundant and tiresome. I mean, really, how many times does he have to tell the reader that the padding under armor smells like stale socks? (apparently 2-3 times in every volume)
I had to force myself to finish Scourge of God and was frustrated in the end that story hadn't advanced, the characters hadn't grown, the McKenzie party was no closer to Nantucket at the end than they were on page 1, and it was just a setup for the next volume.
If you plan on enduring to the end with the novel of the Change series, you're a far more loyal fan than I.
If you have never read any of the other books in this series you'll be highly confused here, and if you have read them and were hoping to get somewhere with this story in this book, sorry.
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