Oh Delany. You continue to impress and stagger me. And I don’t think I got some of the more subtle stuff that was going on here.
SLIGHT spoilers. I don’t think it would compromise your enjoyment of the book.
I really enjoyed this novel. It’s got such a clash of styles – sometimes the main character, Lobey, out-innocents Garion from the Eddings’ Belgariad series, and sometimes he participates in intense discussions of genetics. It’s got remarkable meta stuff going on, with excerpts at the start of each chapter from a really broad range of sources including, apparently, the author’s own diaries (are they real? were they really written in a diary but with the intention to include it in the novel? Just how meta and sneaky can Delany b- oh wait. Pretty sure the answer to that is obvious).
Delany is doing all sorts of sneaky things here with myth and legend. The AI whose acronym spells PHAEDRA, found at the end of a labyrinth… plus Christian stuff, plus American Old West stuff, plus I suspect some other stuff that I did not pick up on. And then there’s the meta-discussion ABOUT myth and legend and their place in society and 147 pages SERIOUSLY?
I ADORED the revelation that these are non-humans literally taking on the skins and myths of humans for some unrevealed purpose. It’s almost a cliche to talk about books where you’re just dropped into the middle of a much, much bigger story but by golly that’s true here. The level of opacity is breathtaking AND YET the story is still so very compelling.