Book-Space! #18. Too Like the Lightning
At last! A book written for Dan and nobody else. Join Brock, Summer, and Dan as we discuss utopias, renaissances, and golden ages, along with theology, miracles, and messiahs both unapproachable and childlike. It’s Too Like the Lightning by Ada Palmer. Listen here or download here.
Next time, we’ll be reading Seven Surrenders, also by Ada Palmer.
Posted on February 4, 2021, in Podcast and tagged Space-Biff! Book-Space!. Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.
I read this book when it came out, and I couldnt decide if I found it incredibly interesting or absolutely hated it. I’m still on a limbo about it. Reason why I havent read the second part, I’m not sure I want, and I’m not sure I dont want.
For sure the book was original, but there were things in it that made me just go WTF? all the time. Loved the idea of a different society and a different style of writing to show us that we get it very wrong that the future will be like us – that modes of writing and thinking will be the same; found it clever that it went for a future that is a re-run of the Enlightment… up to a point.
It is ok to write spoilery things here or should I stop here? There are aspects of the book that I would like to hear your opinions on.
As long as your spoilers are marked, go for it!
Ok, lets see. Take into account that I’m a self-deluded science-fiction geek that has many interest but no qualifications in neither hard not soft science 😛
There is a part in the book in which a great deal is made of the “Jehova” kid revealing that he knows somebody is Catholic. Which is a big thing in this world (and for all his incredible knowledge of everything he seems to not be aware of that… or to be desiring the effect), because nobody should ever know your religion it is a private thing that you along will know and you should not proselytize or even talk about your views unless with your designated one-shope theologian.
And I’m left wondering… ok, how in hell has Catholicism survived? How can you call yourself Catholic? You cant know who is the Pope, you cant know who is an ordained priest, you cant have sacraments except under the “emergency” clause and frankly… again, how do you self identify as Catholic in this setting without THE Church? Basically you are at most saying you would like to be Catholic if Catholicism didnt went extinct at some point in the past (and I’m thinking, not peacefully). Christian, I can get. Catholic? No, this world cant contain Catholics. Unless they define Catholic in a some very different way. I’m the only one thinking this or did I miss some fundamental explaining of it?
On the other side of the spectrum, I keep wondering if it wouldnt have been better to just substitute the flying cars with teleportation, because both are equally impossible but the cars are, apart from that, not going to be that fun to be in if you have to sustain accelerations to get to 4000-6000 km/h. But again, I may be overestimating the numbers and it is possible – in the human sense of not blacking out on the trip. The question of how a small thing the size of a current car can get to those speeds on its own is, again, well, technomagic.
Anyway, again, the book both amazed me and irritated me at rougly the same levels; fascinating to use an Enlightenment framework to show us fiction in the “future” doesnt have to sound like it is written by an early 21 Century person, but the whole reveal of our narrator and that the world is governed by the Sex Party, didnt trill me that much.
There were definitely moments that strained my belief in the setting. The one thing that made Catholicism possible, perhaps, was the presence of a Pope in Rome. Rome and other religious centers still existed as “reservations,” not unlike indigenous reservations that exist today. Not a great outcome, but they were still kicking around! But since you never really get to see into the private minds of the story’s smaller characters, it’s never clear how much they know about the Pope or the Catechism or the sacraments. I’d love to discover how that sort of thing works. What makes someone wake up and decide, hey, I’m Lutheran!
One thing I think you got wrong on the podcast – the EU persist precisely due to abandoning identity and being the first to declare universal membership, starting the foundational idea of the age. So they are kind of the grandfather of all the hives. The fact that this seems to be spearheaded by the King of Spain never ceased to amaze/annoy me – looks like Palmer is a believer in the “Juan Carlos I brought democracy to Spain” idea, which is kinda ironic given how the last 5 years have been a complete deterioration of the former King’s image. Not to mention, pretty sure the rest of the EU dont care much about what our Kings may say…
But hey, I’m a (Spanish) Republican, I may be biased 😛
Ha! I was wondering if anybody could enter Palmer’s world without their own biases. I certainly have my own. It’s fascinating to hear what other people think for that very reason.
… and I’m so stupid I did not put my name and assumed the markup would work
No worries! I’ve fixed that for you.