Sunday, December 16, 2018

EUROPE AT DAWN, fourth Fractured Europe novel, wraps a terrific series

(Fractured Europe Sequence #4)
Solaris Books
$6.99 ebook platforms, available now

Rating: 4.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Alice works at the Scottish Embassy in Tallinn in Estonia as a member of the Cultural Section. When two men bring her the jewelled skull of a Scottish saint her world gets turned on its head, and she becomes the latest recruit to Les Coureurs des Bois.

On a Greek island Benno is just one of hundreds of refuges dreaming of a new life in Continental Europe. After hatching an audacious escape plan, he may just get his dream, but at the price of serving some powerful mysterious new masters.

Rudi and Rupert, the seasoned Coureur and the scientist in exile from a pocket universe, discover that someone they thought long dead is very much still alive. Not only that, but the now defunct Line – the railway that once bisected the European continent – may be being used for nefarious means.



My Review
: Old friends make reappearances...old problems need solutions again, the only ones at hand are the ones that didn't work faces wear old clothes and frighten us out of our sleep because the monsters under the bed never left.

An island in the Aegean Sea, the Scottish Embassy in Tallinn, a folk duo of no discernible talent but a huge reputation, and a pair of refugee teenagers tear through the pages trailing clouds of story as Author Hutchinson makes his last scheduled stop in hideously Fractured Europe.

So let me start with this. You're not going to make this your first stop on the route of the Coureurs des Bois. It would be a serious error of judgment to jump in any old how. It is necessary to read EUROPE IN AUTUMN first because so many things that happen in each book suddenly make sense in light of remembering events from the ones before; and starting from the first story helps make the experience of reading the fourth richly textured and satisfying.

The multiverse that Author Hutchinson posits, with its pocket universes and its bizarre cartographic secrets and its stunningly amoral and conscienceless elite, doesn't suddenly make sense in this book's denouement. It doesn't really ever make sense. It all—all the books, all the maps you hear about, all the baggy, wrinkled bits of story-cloth left on bushes here and there drying at their own pace—makes perfect sense as soon as you realize that. I'm not trying to be sibylline or obfuscatory. I'm giving you the effect of reading Author Hutchinson's deeply sculpted, complex story. What vistas open to you are important, but not decisive and defining. They're fractal artifacts of a universe possessed of no higher law than randomness. Remembering the things in your subjective past isn't always helpful, though it's always a good idea to rattle the dice in the brain-cup and see if boxcars or snakeyes come up. Either roll can be the winner because, like the real universe, shit just happens, what the hell. (Yes yes, it's a Terry Pratchett line, but believe me when I tell you that Author Hutchinson has a similarly depraved sense of humor to Sir Terry's.)

What you need to know about this book in particular is that Rudi coming back into focus, Rudi from the Krakow restaurant who really never wanted too much of what happened on his watch to happen...Rudi snaps the pieces of this shattered place's soul into focus as only he could. He still wants to feed people and be a cog in a machine that lacks malevolence for its constituent parts. And he is the reader in that sense, he is the character who does what he must but wants some of his work to matter in a simple way without Overtones.

He wants to live a boring life in boring times. The opposite of the "ancient Chinese curse" we've grown up hearing about. Europe's fracture due to the hideous plague of dubious origins is irreparable. The world cannot be put back together again. I think the Western Romans, especially the Britannians, of 500CE must have felt this way. It look the same. The sky's the same. The birds didn't change. But nothing will ever work again so what shall we do now?

Then there are those alternate places that aren't a thing like Fractured they fit together better, are they functional societies, and what are we all going to use as glue to hold all the truly jagged pieces in place? There are no answers. There are no better-framed questions. There are a lot of smug bastards pretending they're on top of stuff. They're not. And you know what? Since no one is, since there's no top to be on, the world will sail on. Over the falls. Off the edge. Into safe harbor. Simultaneously.

This, my friends, is why I read Author Dave Hutchinson's books. Do not kid yourself. He sees reality, he tells you what's happening in eleventeen voices, he weaves disparate strands of story together and snips others without warning. This is what life actually is without the comforting lie of linear time to soothe our monkeybrains with story. Author Hutchinson tells us the story but unwraps it so we can get down in the gearbox that only quantum mechanics know how to grok.

I want you to read these novels. Don't start here. This is your reward for making a turbulent and beautiful journey. This is the final cataract on the river. You're prepared for it. And it's a great sense of understanding and accomplishment as you finish this book. For this is what it means to be awake and alive and fully present in a unique place. Control? None. Power? Illusion. A good dinner, some wine, and companions to enjoy. Do what it takes to keep that safe for the greatest number of people.

Happen I agree.

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