Etched City Rothdas book review RSS
5.0 Stars

Nice, really nice. This is a wandering book of semi-fantasy, semi-actual literature, with a mix of adventure, crime, romance, and occasional warps in the fabric of reality. One of the two main characters is a doctor who's idealism has been hollowed out by events, leaving behind a sort of fossil of its shape that continues forward. Aside from her occasional gun fights she wouldn't be that out of place in an Iris Murdoch novel. Actually now that I think about it she has a bit of Tallis in her, though her design is not as perfect as his. The other main character is a blackguard and gunslinger, who does just fine without ideals and instead makes do with an uncanny amount of luck and engaging the world as it is. These two characters are semi-friends, and over the course of the story they move from a bitter, Wild West desert frontier, to a florid and decadent jungle city, and back again. Things happen? The plot is kind of slack or pleasantly wandering; it does not necessarily have the normal peaks and valleys that you would expect. Instead there is just continually beautiful (and frequently brutal) writing.

The tech level in this book seems to be around the ~1850's in our world, though it lacks the same sort of technological momentum and acceleration that ours has. One interesting offshoot from this book was that it made me realize how much of my own idealism is a result of that acceleration. It is much easier to look at some instance of human crappiness and say well, we can at least hope to fix that, maybe not today but hopefully in X decades when we have better tools and technology. Or to put it another way, you can say that yes idealism is completely unrealistic, but it is still not inconceivable that one day we could, Infinite Tsukuyomi style, wrap the world in thicker and more perfect layers of abstraction in order to get something halfway decent.