February Books 13) Stamping Butterflies

13) Stamping Butterflies, by Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Finished this on Monday night, so it just about counts as my last book of last month. I wasn’t overwhelmed by RedRobe, but really very much enjoyed Pashazade, Felaheen and Effendi, Grimwood’s trilogy set in an alternate history (but very contemporary) Alexandria where the German and Ottoman empires never fell. This latest combines present day US/western Mediterranean political interactions, a far future empire of two thousand worlds, a near future Chinese space mission, and 1970s Marrakech which is the key to the whole story.

I love Grimwood’s prose and characterisation – he stated at PicoCon the weekend before last how important it is for him to be able to experience the world he is writing, and that is very believable. For most of the book it was able to carry me past the shoals of unsuspended disbelief. I was left at the end just a bit unsatisfied, unfortunately. I never felt we got to the bottom of the main charcater’s motivation – who, in the end, is the “darkness”? Why is our protagonist a genius? Why, indeed, was it necessary for him to shoot at the President? And the resolution of the entire story – no bomb in 1977, President therefore makes common cause with the Chinese, humanity’s future in space is therefore assured – seemed to me to beg a whole lot of questions about where a different point of departure might have been found, and cosily slipped into a Happily Ever After ending which is completely at variance with the rest of the book and with Grimwood’s natural tone. Maybe I missed something in there, but I’m afraid it (just) misses my Hugo nominations.

One thought on “February Books 13) Stamping Butterflies

Comments are closed.