Book Review: Halfway Home

Halfway Home, by Hugh Howey

This book was loaned to me by a friend of mine who had not read the novel first, and given that I tend to over-analyze the reasons I am loaned a book [1], this was probably a hazardous kind of book to give. As it happens, on the face of it, there are a lot of reasons why I appreciated this book at least in part. The book itself is an examination of some of the problems that are involved in space colonization, the subject of one of my books [2], and this book examines many of the problems thoughtfully that I examined, including communication and governance and the relationship between colonies and the home world. Likewise, this particular novel was written during NaNoWriMo, which was the occasion for me to therapeutically write about my traumatic experiences in Thailand a couple of years ago [3], giving another similarity between the author and I that should have boded well for liking the novel overall. So what happened?

On the plus side, there was a lot about this novel that was enjoyable. There is a vivid struggle between the survivors of an attempt to abort a space colony that is reversed leading the least fit members of the society to survive and make something successful, only to realize that there is something far more ominous afoot and a supposedly wise computer that is far from humane in its own operations, and subject to its own crushing limitations. The fact that the people in the novel are all brought to life (preprogrammed for sexuality and at the development of teenagers) is definitely intriguing, although the narrator himself appears to be a bit more reflective than most teenagers would be, except maybe the nerdy and angsty ones that become psychologists, which was his training. The book has a lot to say about terraforming that is thoughtful and intriguing, and and as adventure story there is much to appreciate here.

Unfortunately, a lot of the enjoyment of the book is harmed by the fact that Howey has chosen an unsympathetic and weak protagonist to serve as the narrator and driver of the story. The fact that the protagonist is involved in a sorta relationship with a girl who is loved by another young man whom the narrator really and secretly longs for is an aspect of sordid and corrupt cultural politics that makes a big deal in this book. The author, for all of his opposition to scientific control and his love of the human element (which plays a major role in his other books [4]), seems to espouse a belief in the existence of a ‘gay gene,’ which explains how the psychologist narrator Porter is programmed to be gay so as not to carry on his seed while everyone else does, leaving him all alone in a world of unconscious coupling. I was glad the book had been loaned to me without having been read, as it is the sort of portrayal, of the protagonist as a bit of a sissy, that I would have taken with extreme umbrage had it been meant of me personally. As it is, the weakness of the lead character greatly harms the effectiveness of the novel, even if the story is well-written enough, for all of its politically correct and morally corrupt nonsense, to raise worthwhile questions about science and technology and freedom.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/book-review-the-little-stranger/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/02/04/book-review-killing-jesus/

[2] http://www.amazon.com/Terra-Nullis-Nathan-Albright-ebook/dp/B00LLYU7E8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407387351&sr=8-1&keywords=Terra+Nullis

[3] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2012/10/07/im-as-jober-as-a-sudge-nanowrimo/

http://www.amazon.com/Escape-Land-Smiles-Nathan-Albright-ebook/dp/B00AFGB7EM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407387500&sr=8-1&keywords=Escape+From+The+Land+Of+Smiles

[4] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/05/17/book-review-wool/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.wordpress.com/2014/06/07/book-review-shift/

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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3 Responses to Book Review: Halfway Home

  1. Pingback: Book Review: Sand Omnibus | Edge Induced Cohesion

  2. Pingback: Book Review: The Mystery Of Lewis Carroll | Edge Induced Cohesion

  3. Pingback: Book Review: Evel: The High-Flying Life Of Evel Kinevel: American Showman, Daredevil, And Legend | Edge Induced Cohesion

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