Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Black Cloud

Made an executive decision at the park today. 82 pages into the 190-page 1957 science fiction paperback by Fred Hoyle, The Black Cloud, I put it down.


Well, and I hate to write this, but the first 43% of the novel was possibly the most boring 43% of any science fiction novel I have ever read. And that’s saying something. I enjoyed the quirky creativity Hoyle’s October the First is Too Late (reviewed here, here) and the man as a physicist was a wonderfully iconoclastic thinker. But this book is, to me, something of a misfire.

I was fascinated with the first ten or fifteen pages. In detailed, 1950s-era astronomical research only zero-point-zero-zero-zero-three percent of readers, like myself, would enjoy, a black cloud is discovered out in the Orion patch of sky, accelerating exactly towards the Sun and will arrive in sixteen months. What will happen? Will the cloud endarken the sun, causing a month-long plummet in temperatures, destroying most plant and animal life on earth? Will whatever it’s made of increase the temperature of the rays from the Sun? Is it somehow intelligent, this cloud, as the book cover seems to hint at but isn’t brought up in the first 82 pages?

Half of me wants to find out. But the other half realizes I have about a hundred other paperbacks down in the basement that might be a more rewarding read. The second half wins out this time.

Because none of these questions are answered or even addressed at any length. Instead we have, basically, page after page after page of scientists meeting with other scientists, meeting with government officials, government officials meeting with other government officials, then meeting back with scientists. 65 pages of this!

Sir Frederick Hoyle, forgive me. There are other worlds to conquer …

PS. If you allow me to pat myself on the back, I still think the title of this May 2010 blog post, “Black Hoyle Sun”, is one of my best creations. It’s an interesting post I wrote about that October the First book at about a hundred pages in, and it’s right here if yer interested.

No comments: