Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Fantastic Voyage

 Fantastic Voyage by Issac Asimov

Four men and one woman reduced to a microscopic fraction of their original size, boarding a miniaturized atomic sub and being injected into a dying man's carotid artery. Passing through the heart, entering the inner ear where even the slightest sound would destroy them, battling relentlessly into the cranium.

Their objective . . . to reach a blood clot and destroy it with the piercing rays of a laser.

Isaac Asimov wrote the novel based on Harry Kliener's screen play. Rumor has it, that when Asimov saw the original screen play, he remarked that it was full of plot holes and scientific inaccuracies, and insisted on correcting them for the novel. 

Unfortunately, he failed to correct the basic structural and character development flaws. So instead of a 'fantastic voyage', we have a seriously flawed novel. 

The first chapter is literally four "As you know, Bob" conversations about the importance of an off-page character. The Turkey City Lexicon lists an "As you know, Bob" as when two characters tell each other what they already know to bring the reader up to speed. It's a common sci fi trope among beginners. Editors hate it, and this book exemplifies one of the reasons for that hatred. 

By having his characters discuss an off-page character, the author is telling the reader that the characters he's introducing us to on the page aren't that important. So the reader is wondering" if these characters aren't that important, why is the writer wasting my time introducing me to them? Let's get to the real story".

Granted this book was written in 1966, is based on a movie, and opening scenes like this were very common in films of the time. But I still expected better writing from a Grand Master of Science Fiction. 

A second major flaw is the dialog. Most of the dialog consists of one character telling another what they should be thinking. Often with hyperbolic emotional exaggeration that might have worked on the screen, but on the page, makes the characters look like caricatures.

It's was difficult to get into the story, and I was so disgusted with the dialog, I quit reading half way through. Can't recommend this book, not even for historical value.

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