Monday, January 02, 2006

Levinson, Paul. Borrowed Tides. New York: Tor, 2001. 258pp.

Levinson is both a well-regarded sf writer and a prof in media studies at Fordham University. I've read a few of his short stories and one other of his novels, The Silk Road, and was quite impressed, especially with the novel and stories featuring Phil D'Amato. D'Amato is a kind of science fictional forensic detective, as if Asimov had written an episode of CSI. Anyways, Borrowed Tides isn't part of that series but I thought I'd give it a try in any case. After all, not many sf novels features philosophy of science profs as protagonists. The premise, in a nutshell, is that there's this interstellar trip to Alpha Centauri and this anthropology prof has come up with the quantum mechanical way to make the trip faster via some sort of cosmic tide. The crew ends up including the two rather elderly profs and motley bunch of other rather stereotypical scifi templates. Smart, nerdy guys, butt-kicking women, etc. Well, the quantum-mechanical business doesn't work out as hoped, the interpersonal relationships don't work as as hoped and the novel proceeds rather predictably.

All and all, a bit of a disappointment, mostly because the characters weren't really that memorable for me and also because the whole thing was just a bit dull. It was really an effort to force myself to finish the last fifty pages. This should have been a novella, not a novel.


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