Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Amnesia Moon Rising

I first fell in love with Jonathan Lethem when I read As She Climbed Across the Table a few years ago. It's about a scientist who discovers a sentient black hole and then loses his girlfriend to it. It was funny and sad and quirky and I think there's a special kind of power in making ridiculous situations feel real and serious.

Which is why I've been picking up everything by him I've found at Half Price Books including my current read: Amnesia Moon. This is a post-apocalyptic story of Chaos, who has no memory of his real name, his past life or what happened to change everything. People are strangely affected - sometimes controlled - by the dreams of others, and there are whole communities where all the people dream their leader's dreams with them to shape their thoughts accordingly.

Chaos leaves one of these places after being cast once too often as a dream villain, accompanied by a mutant girl of 13 with hair all over her. They drive across states finding different levels of technologies and societies as they go. Some places are powered purely by solar power while some places run on fossil fuels. One mountain town is covered entirely by what the inhabitants call "the green" which colors the air so much that it is almost all they see. One town forces it's citizens to move twice a week and share most belongings communally.

This is probably the coolest post-apocalyptic story I've read since Oryx and Crake, because it's original and surprising. Plus, I haven't read any science fiction that dealt with dreams and mental abilities this way - though it is similar to the Lathe of Heaven in ways. And for all you Lost fans, the characters all have the same fabulous lost-in-the-woods kind of behavior as the plane wreck survivors did in the first season.

Related posts:
Narcissism in Space
Babes in History and Fiction
The Woman Warrior
My Top Ten Authors
Sex, Lies and Buddha

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DLC said...

For my money the best novel of this genre is samuel delaney's 'Dhalgren.' If you haven't read it, definitely check it out. It's a highly disturbing, experimental, post apocalyptic sex romp. Here's decent review.

May said...

...I dunno... It sounds interesting enough, but I'm really turned off by the review's comparison of Dhalgren to Gravity's Rainbow, because the latter SRSLY pissed me off when I read it. Granted, I can't assume that Dhalgren's ending will suck as hard as Rainbow's did, but it will probably take some time for the association to wear off. When it does, though, I'll definitely take a look.

Thanks for the suggestion.