Monday, January 31, 2011

Blind Cat Dance

Novelette by Alexander Jablokov

A really interesting world, where modern humanity have learned to make ourselves invisible to animals. We have built cities and restaurants around little bits of city being reclaimed by nature. On one hand, wild animals are now allowed more habitat than they currently have, but on the other, sustainable ecosystems can't be set up, and everything has to be managed by human animal trainers. And at the same time, we grow giant "tubes" of pork in lightless factories, in one of the grossest, coolest scenes I've read in a while.

In this world, we get to see an animal trainer observe a group of friends at several restaurants, at the direction of his boss, the former husband of one of the friends, who wants to win her back. Our animal trainer slowly falls in love with her as she takes classes to become an animal trainer herself. But eventually going back to her old husband disappointing him. We get to see a very interesting world, and explore many levels of metaphorical and literal not-seeing things.

The examination of sight and blindness and ignorance is thought-provoking, if a bit dull, and the world-building is amazing. But the plot is basically pointless and doesn't entirely make sense. Particularly the big confrontation at the climax strikes me as odd and unclear. And then the story goes on a lot longer without really accomplishing anything. I love the images and commentary and the world itself, and the ending scenes would be great on their own, but this story drags something awful. It is overly long, with no real resolution to a plot that doesn't matter. And I get what Jablokov is getting at with the woman feeling more powerful and therefore less threatened by her former husband, but she goes back to him very easily. All the characters come across rather flat and poorly motivated, including our lovestruck protagonist, who doesn't make much effort for, or comment on, the plans he apparently has.

Pretty scenes, thoughtful theme, and no story to speak of. Still, have to give props for the neatness of ideas, the quality of the world, and the images themselves. 3 unseeing cougars out of 5.

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