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The Project. The “Butterflies of Memory” is a public art piece inspired by the power of hope and transformation. We see the balance of architecture and history .
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- Strange Horizons - The Butterflies of Memory by Ian Watson By Paul Kincaid
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Unknown Binding , pages. Published December 1st by Not Avail first published To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about The Butterflies of Memory , please sign up. Be the first to ask a question about The Butterflies of Memory. Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Jan 11, David Wernsing marked it as to-read.
Ian rated it liked it Jun 11, Chris rated it liked it Sep 22, Terry rated it really liked it Jan 22, William Bishop rated it it was amazing Jul 14, Justin rated it it was ok Mar 04, Ian marked it as to-read Jun 10, Similarly, Watson's homage to Jules Verne, "Giant Dwarfs," which recreates the journey to the centre of the Earth with Verne himself as a participant and a liberated young woman as narrator, manages to cram in troglodytes, Nazis, and a timeslip, which seems to be an idea or two too many.
Strange Horizons - The Butterflies of Memory by Ian Watson By Paul Kincaid
Lack of resolution seems to be a consequence of Watson's facility with ideas; stories start with fascinating situations, but then run out of steam before the end, as if Watson has simply lost interest. In both "An Appeal to Adolf" and "Hijack Holiday" the narrator is simply killed before most of the plot strands have had a chance to be resolved. In "An Appeal to Adolf" the death is particularly ludicrous—the narrator is shot out of a cannon in his underwear—which does a disservice to the overly complex but thoughtful story that has preceded it, a story which involves an alleged gay relationship between Hitler and Ludwig Wittgenstein, and battleships so long that three alone are enough to bridge the English Channel.
Fortunately, if one idea doesn't work for you there are three or four more coming along in a minute, and these unsatisfactory stories are balanced by others which are more tightly focussed, and which work much better as a consequence. But by limiting the story to one man's frightening visit to this other world, and leaving so much of the game a mystery, Watson gives a powerful sense of coherence and unity to this vivid story.
The story notes tell us that when he began writing "A Free Man" Watson thought that it might be a novel; instead it has ended up as a thirty-page story and perhaps the best piece in this collection.
The work involved in editing the story down, in cutting out extraneous detail, in concentrating on just the one idea, has paid dividends. This is about as controlled a piece of writing as you get from Watson: By keeping our interest solely on his quest to establish his own identity, we care more and discover more than we do with the less controlled, more scattergun approach elsewhere. The quest for identity in "A Free Man" becomes closely tied to the protagonist's sexual relationship with a girl he meets.
One of the less pleasing aspects of this collection is Watson's increasing and often perverse interest in sex, but here, for once, the sex and the story work together.
Even if "Lover of Statues" doesn't quite manage to marry the enigmatic alien, who uses a Madrid statue as a sexual partner, with the narrator constantly harking back to her own failed relationship, it is still the best of these more sexual tales. All told there are 17 stories in this new collection accompanied by story notes which are excessively informative in some cases, mind-numbingly uninformative in others , of which three—"The Black Wall of Jerusalem," "A Free Man," and "One of Her Paths," which concerns the quantum effects of space travel when an entire ship's crew find themselves alone for the six months their vessel is in Q-Space—represent Watson at his very best, controlled, original, energetic, and entertaining.
But these are offset by too many duds "Barking Mad," a pastiche of Inspector Morse, seems particularly feeble to me , and a number of stories—"Lover of Statues"; "Separate Lives," about a couple who transgress sexual laws and find themselves exiled to different realities; "Starry Night," about a man transported to a world so far beyond the rim of our galaxy that he can have no hope of return; and "The Butterflies of Memory," in which mobile phones vampirically suck out our memories and replace them with false ones, confusing our sense of identity—which feel as if they need at least one more rewrite to tie the disparate ideas more closely together and make them work more coherently as stories.
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