When an author who likes to do cheeky asides uses a big word and tells the reader “Look it up,” which is more insulting: when you DO know the word, or when you DON’T? I cogitated on that during the whole book, and couldn’t decide. I do know that when the cheeky asides tell you “Now pay attention here,” it is pretty much always insulting.
This book was a clever idea, nearly drowned by an author who got too preoccupied with the idea of being clever. Karen is a science fiction writer who decides to write about the telepathic space jellyfish she’s been encountering since she was a kid. There are others who are aware of the aliens, who call themselves the S.oteri (here we get an aside where the author says the reader will feel SO clever when they figure out the clever name, and then several chapters later, ruins the effect by saying “GET IT?!?!? Esoteric? GET IT?!??!”). Several of those others happen to be actors in Hollywood, formerly big players on a show called SpaceSeekers. What’s a big word that means even thinner than thinly? ‘cause this thinly-disguised Star Trek rip-off even has its alien character (Benn, played by actor Max, who talks to the jellyfish) write an autobiography called “I Am Not Benn.” Huh.
The S.oteri used to be one big hive mind creature on its own world, until parts of it started crawling off and exploring, and discovered that it could reach out to this planet full of interesting creatures. The main Mind doesn’t think humans are real; it thinks the explorers are making Earth up. So the book goes back and forth with convoluted questions about if Karen is making up the jellyfish as she’s writing, or if the jellyfish have made up Karen and humanity as they grapple with their place in the universe, and who and what (if anyone) is real. As the humans start to meet each other and admit to knowing about the telepathic space jellyfish, it becomes more and more likely that they’re real, however strange it sounds.
So it’s a cool setup! It’s a lot of very inside baseball into fandom and sci-fi, which is half fun and half eye-rolly. There are a lot of sidebars into the past, as we see how the S.oteri (who don’t experience time) have interacted with other humans over the eons (pharaohs, Hypatia). But then about the ninth time I got to “Pay attention, please, this is important,” I was about done. If your cleverness feels too try-hard, it dilutes the story and just makes your reader crabby! Plus, it’s weirdly repetitive – why does everybody call everybody Kemosabe all the time?
Interesting but aggravating. I can’t decide if I would recommend this or not! I guess I didn’t pay enough attention.