Albedo One Review

Mockymen by Ian Watson (Golden Gryphon, hardback, 324pp,US$26.95)

Mockymen belongs very much to the traditional staple of science fiction novel you used to see in abundance many years ago. Watson has his premise in mind and mixes in a panoply of elements, characters and places in order to engage the reader and bring him/her along on a rollercoaster ride to his intended denouement.

Chrissy and Steve manage a jigsaw making business in Femhill in the UK and are drawn into a scheme devised by aging Norwegian Knut Alver to produce a very special jigsaw that effectively forms a gateway to the dying days of Nazi rule in Norway and a desperate attempt at reincarnation.

The whole event has far-reaching consequences that stretch into the future, a future dominated by a supposedly benevolent alien race called the Mockymen. Into the fray enters Anna Sharman, an intelligence agent who unwittingly gets involved in an underground movement resistant to the continued rule of the Mockymen. The consequences of the events at Femhill offer Anna an insight to the nature of the Mockymen and ultimately a key to releasing their stranglehold on humanity.

It's classic storytelling of the best kind, featuring along the way many interesting characters, a well-realised Oslo with an insight to the last days of Nazi rule and the aftermath for the key Norwegian players of the time, an amazingly imaginative visit to a Mockymen dominated planet called Melody inhabited by the genuinely alien Ivorymen, and a freaky method of interstellar travel.

Structurally, there are certainly problems with the novel. Many of the elements could have justified a novel in their own right, and in some ways the first section of the novel doesn't gel with the rest, but it is well worth the effort for the ideas that pelt you left, right and centre in a typical Watsonian fashion reminiscent of the best of his short stories.

— John Kenny, Albedo One, Issue 29, 2004


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