TO RIDE PEGASUS
* * * * * S P O I L E R S * * * * *
* * * * * S P O I L E R S * * * * *
* * * * * S P O I L E R S * * * * *
The first volume in the epic saga of the Talents of earth.
They were people whose gifts were unique.For years – centuries – they had not even understood just what they could do with their minds.They had sometimes become astrologers, clairvoyants, or healers, but their Talents were undeveloped and untrained.
Henry Darrow was the first to explore the huge wealth of psychic gifts hidden amongst mankind, and it was he who formed the first Parapsychic Centre where Talents could train and be used to revolutionise the world.But their powers set them apart, made them feared, then threatened by the un-Talented.And when dangerous freak ‘wild’ Talents began to wreak havoc in the outside world, it took all their combined Talented efforts to save themselves.
An excellent meeting and a great start to the book clubbing year for our intrepid band of book lovers!! We chatted for about an hour and a half before we started in on the scores – a beautifully meandering and wandering discussion, covering all manner of topics – the majority of which were barely tangentially linked to the book at hand! I’ve done my best to try and cover the main strokes, but there was just so much!!
As this was my book choice and one I have a strong emotional connection too, I was prepared to be quite defensive…just in case! It’s entirely likely that I talked too much but thankfully the Medusa set are pretty awesome…and know to speak over me; interrupt; tell me to pipe down and – should it become necessary – threaten me (see previous write up’s for the understandably effective Twilight/50 Shades/Wuthering Heights
One of the first aspects that we evaluated was the surprising (to some) misogyny that was evident throughout the book. As one of our members put it, it would *almost* have been easier to understand had the book been written by a man – however, from a female author, the casual sexist references – particularly due to reproduction – were rather disappointing. However, a couple of us (including myself) had read this as a subversive reflection of the world as it was in the 60’s and 70’s and the state of science fiction writing at that point.
After all, these are a collection of short stories
, with few developed characters – at least a third of whom were female and who impacted hugely on the plot (for example Molly in the first story was taken seriously by all her (male) colleagues and was in fact the one that discovered the significance of the goose egg reactions).
An additional defence could be seen that all the women (bar Ruth) were equivalently powerful Talents and had successful careers where they were regarded as being vital and irreplaceable in their roles.
We did get a giggle that Maggie O was identified as female because while a bloke might have stolen the coat and dress, only a woman would have grabbed the shoes as well.
Taken in this light, it was possible to regard Ruth – the maternal and warmest of the women and one who seemed to occupy a passive and subjugated position – as also turning a trope or stereotype on its head.
Others were a touch disappointed that the stories were so short and there were time jumps between them – just as you were getting really interested in Ruth’s genetic manipulation (really quite a powerful Talent after all) or Dorothea’s development; everything would switch and you’d not find out what happened to them! Or when op Owen found his morality shifting regarding informing Dorothea’s parents of her Talents. Quite a few were planning to read further books in the series to see if there was any continuation. Somehow, at this point, we got into a waaay over my head discussing of genes, evolutionary traits, blue eyes being a genetic abnormality from roughly 8000 -10000 years ago, dominant and recessive genes… Felt well smart till I realised I was barely following any of it! As one of the book clubbers commented (regarding We) ‘there were words, they were in English, I didn’t understand any of it’.
Oh and we had a very odd segway into the Ferrari syndrome when discussing Henry Darrow wishing he was a telepath while op Owen wished he was a pre-cog. We all seemed to like op Owen and more than one of us read his character with a Welsh accent. We enjoyed his interactions with the police chap. Henry Darrow also left a strong and positive impact. The only character that irritated me was the puppy like Sally…and even in the book, that tendency is called out.
Regarding the writing, we were most of us impressed with the fluidity and embedded nature of many of the scifi elements and wording, particularly around the use of the word Talents. As one of us remarked – it was science fiction, but you didn’t know it until you’d suddenly pick up on a word or phrase. And even then, it was all so contextually relevant that it seemed perfectly in place.
In this way, the first portion of the book managed to build up a picture of a world not totally dissimilar to our own and then in a few sentences distinguish it. Then for some reason, it became essential to discuss Doctor Who, Benedict Cumberbatch and Damien Lewis and Wolf Hall. Oh and Heroes…though at least that tied into the book, seeing as how it had a very similar premise.
One of our members, who is a bit of a fellow SF fan, found himself very underwhelmed by the book, thinking that he might have enjoyed it more if he’d read it as a younger person. However, he very much enjoyed the fact that there were people with super abilities who lived in fairly similar ways to ourselves. No one felt inspired to throw on a cloak and try to save the world. They had Talents, they weren’t superman.
It was also near prophetic in it’s handling of certain topics – the environment, over population, stretched resources and bio-engineering. Similarly, Anne McCaffrey completed read the social landscape accurately by predicting the importance of insurance and legal systems. As a book club, we have sometimes noted (complained) that young adult fiction is not up to par, not challenging enough for adults or the youngsters that it is designed for. Here, huge concepts and constructs are introduced and covered in clear language. The death scene in the first story was particularly challenging and designed to make you think. Here we wandered off for quite a while and discussed Judy Blume, Anne Frank, Flowers in the Attic and the Fault in Our Stars.
With regards to the final story – possibly the most ‘SF’ of the set, we could see many real world parallels, assuming that it was possible to cause or prevent a riot using powers of empathy. Then we got side-tracked by Fleetwood Mac. Easily done.
When it came to scoring, one of our members struggled to come up with an appropriate figure, given that this is a collection of short stories and the introduction to a series and their not having read the rest. I was brutal and *insisted* on a mark…but actually agree with him completely! He was almost cross when I told him after the chat was over with!! There are some books – like for example The Hunger Games – which were originally designed as stand alone stories and are therefore easy to score on their own merit, despite belonging to a set of books. Others – such as Divergent – clearly set out to create a world and begin a series so I personally find scoring it independently from the others very tricky.
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