Quick Book Review: Down There in Darkness

I just finished reading George Turner’s Down There In Darkness and felt vaguely unsatisfied by the novel as a whole. It was his last book, published posthumously, and hailed by some of the reviewers as a classic. There was some interesting ideas posited about morphic resonance and the concept of Dreamtime but the structure of the story, with it’s different narrators and the leap in time of 100 years (bringing the second half of the book into a somewhat worn utopian/dystopian discourse) left me feeling distant from the the main characters. In the end, the ideas presented weren’t developed fully enough to compensate for the lack of characterization and rather banal vision of social engineering as practiced from a bunch of biologists. There also seemed something rather strained about just how much social control the scientists could exert, at least in light of just how religiously reactionary America is at present (I know, the book takes place in Australia, but it describes a world-wide phenomenon). I gather from the jacket that this story takes place or sets up a number of his other novels and, while it wasn’t a great book, I might be willing, if I come across them in a used book store, to check at least one and see if I like his other work better.

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