this is part of as days pass by, by Stuart Langridge

Books I own by T.J. Zakreski

The Cygnus Virus goodreads

T.J. Zakreski

A chap on an alternate-but-similar Earth installs SETI and accidentally downloads a powerful lunatic from our Earth who was sent into space to pay for his crimes. Whereupon we follow the story of that chap, who by turns indulges his every whim as made possible by the lunatic and rebels against him.

This is difficult reading at times. It's almost stream-of-consciousness stuff; attempting to follow Joyce works like this sometimes, as well as esoterica like The Hollow Man by Dan Simmons. Entire chapters are written in argot or as thought processes, and there's an underlying thread of the major arcana from the tarot which never really makes it to the fore.

Despite being theoretically sci-fi, this is really a character study presented on the backdrop of a world roughly but not entirely like ours; there's some fun in identifying the parallels (the Cloth is the Shroud of Turin, as Cygnus explicitly calls out, but there are many other small differences thrown in without comment), but it's about how an ordinary person is confronted with huge issues and, essentially, buckles under the pressure. This is realistic, but not necessarily great reading; our hero is no hero, and the conclusion to draw is that life basically sucks. Even if an intelligence from beyond the stars gives you everything you ever wanted.

There's also a fair amount of fairly explicit sex, as a warning to people who don't like that sort of thing.

I read the whole book, and if Zareski tones down the stylistic touches with accents and with stream-of-consciousness (my own brain works like this, certainly, but I'm not sure I want to read it about others; see john Sandford in Broken Prey talking about "Ruffe's Radio" for how to illustrate this in prose in a way that isn't disorienting) then I'd read another as well.

This book was given to me via NetGalley.

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