January 2012 SF BotM: The January Dancer by Michael Flynn

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Hobbit, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. Hobbit

    Hobbit Now.. A Seriously Likeable Administrator Staff Member

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    The book was published in 2008.

    [​IMG]
    Rob reviewed it in October 2008.

    He said:

    Discuss!

    Mark
     
  2. Kazz Wylde

    Kazz Wylde Rogue Warrior

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    Oh man, Both books of the month I actually read. lol
    Technically this was my first scifi, fantasy is my main thing. Yeah, I remember I did enjoy this book.
     
  3. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    Part of why I was disappointed in The January Dancer was because so many people seemed to REALLY enjoy Flynn's The Wreck of the River of Stars when it was the September 2004 BOTM.
     
  4. DDCOrange

    DDCOrange Registered User

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    Too bad! I've read Firestar and Eiffleheim and enjoyed both novels immensely so I had my eye on this one as my next Flynn read. Maybe I'll hold off and pick it up used at some point.
     
  5. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

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    I've really enjoyed all the Flynn I've read so far: Wreck and Eifelheim. I'm a little behind on reading because of the holidays, but this may be my next book (if I can stick to responsibly reading my book club books instead of diving headfirst into the new Carol Berg...) But for now, since I've liked his other books so much and I haven't read this one to know if I agree in any way with Rob, I'll say that Rob must be wrong and he doesn't know how to read a book the way he's supposed to. So there. :D
     
  6. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

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    I finished this one up a few days back and have been thinking a bit on what to say about it.

    I came into this as a big fan of Flynn. Some clarification there: I discovered him through The Wreck of The River of Stars, which I loved. I later read Eifelheim, which I also loved. Since then I've acquired a few of his other books here and there but haven't jumped into them.

    This book didn't quite do the same thing for me as the previous two books I read. I think part of that was an expectations thing. In both Wreck and Eifelheim, you know coming into the story pretty much what's going to happen. Flynn tells you up front, and they're very much classic tragedies. "I'm going to tell you a story. It's not going to end well, but the journey will be really interesting and you'll probably never guess why it won't end well."

    This book didn't have that sort of set-up, which is fine. But it didn't really give me, as a reader, any kind of expectation at all. I had no idea through most of the book where the story was trying to go or what it was about, who was supposed to be important, what the motivations were behind some of the things going on. Given how tightly-controlled the writing was in previous Flynn experiences, I can only think this was part of the plan with this one, to keep the reader off-kilter a little bit. Much like January's dancer (the artifact), the book itself seems to keep shifting shape and focus as it goes along.

    I really liked the world-building. I enjoyed almost all of the little bits on their own, but I'm not yet sure what to make of them as a whole.

    I didn't actually consider this to be much of a mosaic novel. We had a main cast throughout the book (though not the one we probably expected after reading the first chapter). Maybe I feel that way because last month's book, The Carpet Makers was so very much a mosaic novel (no two chapters were from the same viewpoint (until he copped out near then end and repeated one)) that this book doesn't strike me at all that way.

    While this one didn't sink its hooks into me as much as the previous two books did, I'm definitely interested enough in the world and overarching conflict that I'll pick up the next book and see where it goes. Maybe the Michael Flynn bang I've gotten used to is just played out on a longer scale here.
     
  7. suciul

    suciul Read interesting books

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    This is a very curious books in many ways but I realized this only with benefit of hindsight after reading books 2 (Up Jim River) which I liked but had some flaws that detracted from my enjoyment and book 3 (In the Lion's Mouth) which is excellent.

    Books 2 and 3 clearly focus on 2 main characters and in each another sort of secondary character from The January dancer becomes important too in addition to
    Donovan and Mearana
    who are the main characters of the saga

    The book itself (The January dancer) succeeds very well imho in combining space opera with the archaic celtic language and the subject - artifact chase - is also well done but the true meaning and setup is going to be revealed only later as books 2 and especially 3 just raise the level a lot and change the focus of the series in ways you cannot really guess here; lots of twists and turns too
     
  8. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    Thanks Erf, you've just added a book to my "I want to read" list that I thought was removed. The Wreck of the River Stars goes back to the list.


    I liked this aspect of the novel, too.
     
  9. Erfael

    Erfael Lemurs!!! Staff Member

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    Given what suciel says above, I think Flynn may be playing a longer game with this one. I may end up liking it as much as all the other Flynn I've read once I've got all three books under my belt.
     
  10. suciul

    suciul Read interesting books

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    actually three ends on a (semi) cliffhanger so it will be more than 3
     
  11. krisbslick

    krisbslick Executor

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    Just started (I'm on page 30 or so) and the few Celtic words threw me off a little bit... but i think the story just hit its stride so I'm back to reading!
     
  12. AuntiePam

    AuntiePam Cranky old broad

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    I've just finished the second in this series, Up Jim River -- loved it. I didn't realize it was the second book and I haven't read January Dancer, so maybe my questions are answered there.

    Can anyone tell me what Flynn means when his characters talk about "prehumans"? Who are they supposed to be? Aliens? Did the Commonwealth terraform empty worlds only, or did they kill off alien cultures on some of those planets?
     
  13. Kazz Wylde

    Kazz Wylde Rogue Warrior

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    I'm not sure, its been a few years since I read January dancer, and it was like my first scifi book I'd read. lol I'm sure Liviu could answer this.