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Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Time Event
Catchworld by Chris Boyce

I have been wanting to write this belated book review for a while. Years, actually. It is a combination of an homage and a eulogy for a once-beloved favorite of mine.

CATCHWORLD by Chris Boyce is a book that I read as a child, which haunted my memory for decades. There are certain books one reads just at that golden time of life, usually age twelve, that do that. Coming across a paperback copy again as an adult, on impulse I purchased it.

I was curious to see if, like the writings of Jack Vance and Gene Wolfe, the tale would hold up on rereading, when seen with adult eyes. I was also curious why the book (and author) was unknown. I had never read anything else by Chris Boyce, had never heard his name discussed where science fiction fans gathered, had never known anyone else who had read him. Considering how thrilled I was with CATCHWORLD in my youth, I was puzzled at the omission.

The shock of disappointment could not have been greater. The book is bad. The mystery of why the work was obscure was solved.

Even had the book been as wonderful as I recalled, the Internet reports that Mr. Boyd was Scottish and his output was very small and intermittent (CATCHWORLD (1975), BRAINFIX (1980), BLOODING MISTER NAYLOR (1990)). This alone would have made him an unknown here in the United States.

And yet my curiosity remains. I can still see the things in CATCHWORLD that I liked. I think I can guess what the author was trying to accomplish. What did the book do right and where did it go wrong?

I mean to discuss the plot in detail, because this is not really a book review, it is more like an autopsy. My purpose here is to find out for myself exactly what went wrong in a book that had many things going right for it.

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In Good Company
I published this announcement before, but I did not have the Table of Contents before. I am appearing in the same book with Orson Scott Card, L.E. Modsitt Jr., Allen Steele, George R.R. Martin and Robert Silverberg. August company indeed!

I have a novella called “Twilight of the Gods” slated to appear in an anthology called FEDERATIONS John Joseph Adams (www.johnjosephadams.com.), editor (to be published May 2009 by Prime Books)

For in interview on this and other topics, see here.

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