RBD: Read Before Death

West of January - Dave Duncan, John Gilchrist

This book has stayed with me for years. It's one of my favorites, and and the same time I dreaded reviewing it because everything about it depresses me.

As I've said before, Duncan has a gift for creating planets, orbital elements down to culture. The reason for this is that function *must* follow structure; people are shaped by their environment, their language, culture and lives must fit into their world.

My depression is caused by two things. First, the MC's life, which is just plain...tragic, threaded through with pain he cannot escape. With grief - normal grief, and emotional pain, we see at least the promise of respite...and none of it his his fault. Life sucks, and then the sun stops shining, and would you like a silk scarf with that?

Secondly, the human mind *must* have some lingering attachment to normative Earth-rhythms, circadian and otherwise, because the very vividness with which Duncan creates his planet means I experience the odd disconnect, almost horror, regarding the planet's "days"--solar movement, its consequences...West of January. It's like having Seasonal Affective Disorder via proxy.

The blurb up there doesn't do this book justice.