2014, for me, has been a bad year for reading. I’m sort of starting to mentally take stock of the year’s books for the 2014 version of this post, which I’ll write in a couple of weeks, and the simple fact is while I’ll be able to come up with ten books to talk about easily enough there simply aren’t that many on the list that I want to rave about.
Found an exception. Woohoo!
We’ll start this way: I would never have encountered Sunshine Patriots had Saladin Ahmed not randomly chosen to pitch it on Twitter; he referred to it as an “Afro-Caribbean space opera,” I think last night I called it “Jamaican cyberpunk.” Neither of us used the word military, though, so we both left some stuff out. I’m not getting into the plot; it’s pointless– either you saw the phrases “Afro-Caribbean space opera” and “Jamaican cyberpunk” and started looking for the “buy” link to click on or you know this book isn’t for you, and either way, your impulses are probably correct.
The most interesting thing about this book is the language, though. I haven’t read a book where I wanted to roll around in the words like I do with this one since Catcher in the Rye, and much like Catcher it’s an incredibly rare example of a book where I almost don’t care about the story because the way the author describes his scenes and the way the characters talk are enough. There are plenty of people who can read that way, but I’ve never been one of them; I prefer my narratives strong and linear, and this book, while the story it tells is really interesting, is absolutely not a linear narrative. But the dialogue… my god, the dialogue. The whole damn thing is in dialect– Jamaican patois mixed with Mexican (yes, specifically Mexican) profanity, and quite a bit of that last part.
I understand that this may be a turn-off to some people. Ignore that impulse. It’s beautiful. I wish I could write dialogue like this.
This is a good book and you should read it right now.