Thursday, May 27, 2010

New This Week: The Machinery of Light by David J. Williams

I did not warm instantly to David J. Williams’ Autumn Rain trilogy. Looking back, there’s really only one reason for this: the future he paints -- with panache and skill -- is a little too real and some of what he writes is a little too close for comfort. Like a lot of people, most of the time I’m happiest taking my SF/F with some rose-colored glasses, in a way. I want it to feel real, but it turns out that there’s such a thing as too real. For a while, David J. Williams was it.

For me, it all came together with the third and final book in the series, Machinery of Light (Spectra). It’s not that this is a gentler or more accessible work -- neither thing is true. It’s taken me this long, however, to really begin to understand the brute force of the genius at work here and to understand that, though this is fiction, it feels possible that we’re also looking at forecasting. The thought is not a pleasant one.

It is impossible to reduce the elements at play here to a few pithy lines. Suffice it to say that, after global chaos has shaken the world population beyond imagination -- in the third and final installment -- the fate of the world may well be at stake.

There are people who say Williams is describing the future of warfare in Autumn Rain books. If they’re right, dig a hole and hide: Williams’ future doesn’t look like the kind of party most of us would want to attend. It certainly makes for compelling reading, though.

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