Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Behold the Man - Michael Moorcock

I'd planned to cut and paste the review, as written using my pulse smartpen and translated into text, but for some reason, this page didn't get properly recorded (letters were missing). This is doubly strange as I wrote two pages at the same time, in the same place/posture, etc., and the other page uploaded perfectly. In fact, I got the most accurate translation thus far from that sheet. (I've discovered that bracketing things I want edited out rather than putting a line through them allows the translation program to read the page more accurately. It still doesn't like how I write contractions ('don't' turns into 'don 17')). Still, it takes time to master all new forms of technology, so hopefully I'll be able to post something I've handwritten and translated soon.

I've been in a real SF mood recently, so you'll see a lot of classic SF fiction reviews over the next few weeks. Some will be more well known than others.

One of the lesser known is Behold the Man by Michael Moorcock. Written in 1969, it tells the story of Karl Glogauer's remarkable trip back in time to Palestine, 29AD. He's there to witness the crucifixion of Christ. Though he's not a Christian, he needs something in his life to believe in and fixed on this event as proof that belief in something beyond yourself serves a purpose.

The novel is told mostly through flashbacks as he lives in the past. We see Karl at various times in his life, confused and unhappy. Ultimately he wants to know who he is. He wonders if his personality is due to the outward pressures and expectations of his mother and friends or if, even without their influences, he would be the same person.

But nothing in the past is what he was expecting. And when he finally encounters Christ, he must make some difficult decisions to make sure history proceeds as recorded.

This is an interesting novels which asks some intriguing questions. How accurate is our view of history? Why do we act the way we do?

If you're a dedicated Christian, you won't like how his history plays out. And Karl is not an easy character to like. However, it's a short book and a good introduction to Moorcock's style of writing.

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