Christopher tm Herdt (cherdt) wrote,
Christopher tm Herdt

Frank Herbert's The Green Brain

Frank Herbert's The Green Brain

The Green Brain

Every so often a astoundingly trashy cover grabs my attention, and I find myself reading a really terrible sci-fi novel. I'm going to rank The Green Brain up there with Philip José Farmer's The Stone God Awakens and Lester Del Ray's The Day of the Giants (the Norse gods win the final battle by using an atom bomb supplied by a paltry human!) as the worst drivel I've ever read under the sci-fi banner.

I also thought I should read some Frank Herbert, since I have never been able to get past page 50 of Dune after repeated attempts. That's practically a sin in some circles.

The only female character, who is supposed to be an Irish woman with a Ph.D. in entomology, alternates between helplessly weak and emotional, and aggressively sexual. The human antagonist is a machiavellian Chinese communist atheist who scoffs derisively every time another character mentions God, and is refered to as "the Chinese" as much as by his name. He is consistently vilified, and he would rather sacrifice all humankind than admit that China lost the "bug war."

The book starts with a little action and activity, but the last 80 pages consist of the three main characters floating down a river in a disabled barge, getting on each others' nerves, primarily through a lot of miserable dialogue about the atheist Chinese and the whorish bug doctor. It is supposed to show the passage of much time, so there are frequent half-assed descriptive passages of little or no importance. (When have you ever seen a sky you would describe as platinum? That's one of the stupidest things I've ever read.)

It reminded me a little of No Exit combined with Heart of Darkness, but without any of the literary merit. "Everything in the universe flows like a river," the protagonist thinks every once in a while. Which is probably supposed to be profound, but no matter how hard I try it just doesn't seem that way.

Strangely, the book ends with a sort of forced peace and co-operation between the humans and the evolving enormous insect hive mind. That doesn't make much sense given the way individuality is almost always favored over community in science-fiction, and especially considering the way Herbert depicts the atheist communist throughout the book. Not that I expected consistency.

Also, third-person omniscient p.o.v. really gets on my nerves.

Now you have my opinion on this important matter.
Tags: books

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