Thursday, March 29, 2007

Last night I finished Eifelheim by Michael Flynn. Part of Eifelheim is set in a medieval village in the Black Forest and part is in some un-specified near future. The main body of the novel is about some mysterious occurences in the village that possibly resulted in the village dying out and nothing being re-built where it existed. The "near future" part of the book is very small in comparison and could easily have been edited out.

Flynn doesn't write a lot of books, only nine that I am aware of, but he is one of my favourite science fiction authors. His early books started out in a definite Heinlein/Asimov mode - lots of good ideas and interesting plots but wooden characters that were mostly mouthpieces for ideas/plot points and not easy to distinguish from each other - but he has grown a lot as a writer.

This new novel is a little lighter on plot but has nicely developed characters and an interesting historical aspect. Flynn has been careful to have the characters act, and think, like actual medieval people. The strange occurences lead to some religous discussions that are quite interesting in context.

While I would rate this novel very highly, I think the mix of medieval viewpoints and modern storytelling might be a little offputting for some casual readers. I'm was not surprised to hear this morning that it was nominated for a Hugo award but I would be surprised if it won.

Amazon Link: Eifelheim

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