“A Thousand Words for Stranger” Czerneda, J. (1997)

Okay. I ran across this book in one of John Scalzi’s Big Idea posts over on his Whatever website. I have to admit that this is a book I had seen sitting on the sf shelves at work but for whatever reason it never grabbed me and without the explanation I would not have read Julie E. Czerneda’s first book. So, having just finished it up had I been missing something? Yes indeed I have. 

First of all the spiffy artwork:

But most importantly, a book with a story that just moves along. The book is 360 pages in the edition that I have and I felt like there was no waste. No dead-ends, no writing to show-off how clever the author was being, no, Czerneda really kept things focused and pulling you into the story. Plenty of interesting details about the worlds, machines and peoples this universe and of course the above mentioned and linked “Big Idea”. So Czerneda got the craft right straight out of the gate and bravo.

Now I’ve said she got the craft right but what about the main characters, which for me is the art of writing. Can I believe that they could exist, can I agree or disagree to the beliefs they espouse, and do I want to read about them again? Yes I can. The characters are complex, believable, conduct themselves in ways that create plot twists that are surprising and engaging and Czerneda then gives the book an ending that just makes sense. Yup, this is a complete book.

Now I’m not saying flawless but, well here is her own take on this book:
It started as just one of many stories I was playing with as a hobby, never thinking to see copies in the hands of readers, certainly never planning to send it out to a publisher. I’m very happy I did, but I do confess my first thought after the fateful phone call was “Oh no! What have I done!?” because by then, I knew I could do better. I harboured dark suspicions readers would take one look and say “She thinks she can write?”

She can write and I’m looking forward to more.

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