Initial Thoughts on John C. Wright’s “Somewhither”

I’m having fun reading it, though I do glaze my eyes over every so often. He has a LOOOOOOOOT of exposition. Like, a real, real lot.

I’m not sure how much I like Ilya. He’s a nice guy and all, I guess, but geez, kid, will you learn to stop speaking in 21st century Earth idioms and euphemisms ALL THE TIME with people you KNOW won’t get the references? Come on now. Also, it seems as if his torture had very little effect on him? Which is good for him I guess, but doesn’t seem awfully realistic.

I realized something about Wright. Unlike most writers, he is one of the few authors who I actually prefer to read when he sits down and writes something he intends to be serious literature than when he writes something that’s supposed to be pop fun (generally – I do love his Metachronopolis stories, which to be fair are at least meant to be taken, I think, a little bit more seriously than “Somewhither”). “Somewhither” is fun, but “Awake in the Night Land” is brilliant. “The Last Guardian of Everness” is good, but “Pale Realms of Shade” reaches towards the sublime. And all of his philosophical-bent short fiction is excellent as well (I highly recommend “Idle Thoughts”*, a little read short story of his I greatly enjoyed).

All criticism aside, I do find that I enjoy reading the book a lot. It’s fast-paced and borderline zany and is over the top but never takes itself so seriously that you can’t overlook its excesses. Also, the detail of his worldbuilding is astonishing, an in and of itself it’s enough to recommend the novel. So, go read it.

*Interestingly, despite its relative obscurity I am apparently not the only person to enjoy “Idle Thoughts”. This is what came up when I googled it.

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