Book Review: Empty Space - A Haunting / Author: M. John Harrison / Publisher: Gollancz / Release Date: Out Now
Only a narrow-minded snob or someone who isn’t very well read thinks that science fiction isn’t as valid or mature as other literary genres. M. John Harrison produces work comparable to other lauded science fiction novelists such as Iain M Banks or Margaret Atwood, though alas is not as well known, and Empy Space lives up to the high level of expectation his past works have produced, and a product of his trademark skill of ignoring the limitations of genre and simply producing a cracking tale.
Empty Space is a tale that crosses time and space; we have separate incidents running in parallel to each other, intersecting at points. They are skilfully woven together and it’s hard to see the join. This is a ghost story without ghosts, a mystery filled with revelations. It’s blunt, visceral and deeply strange in places. This is a world where the future is bleak because people have made it that way; it’s a nightmarish future where everyday wonders are taken for granted and nothing is ever seen as sacred. It’s very human, and this is what makes it disturbing.
Harrison is an addictive read, and his style is instantly engaging, intelligent and quite beautiful. It is not, however, an easy read. This is a deep story, and the third (and probably final) part in the Kefahuchi Tract series. You really should read Light and Nova Swing before tackling Empty Space; you’ll get much more out of it. Fans of the movie The Fountain, and those who love the weird and perverse should get a lot out of this. It’s an odd book, but very pretty in a strange sort of way.