Far-Seer by Robert J Sawyer

Pop Sugar 2015 Reading Challenge:

✓ A book with non-human characters
✓A book based entirely on its cover
✓A book by an author you’ve never read before

The trouble with deciding to do the stupid reading challenge is figuring out, if each book is to only count once, what to tick off with each book. For example, the first book finished could be three different ticks on the chart – which one do I pick? So let’s put three ticks. I’m not a voracious reader – the chances of me reading fifty books in a year is pretty slim.

To be strictly fair, though, I didn’t pick Far-Seer based entirely on it’s cover – I’ve been wanting to read it since I was a teenager, and found its sequel –  Fossil Hunter in the local library. Obviously, being a science fiction novel in which the main characters are dinosaurs, it was a book I longed to read, but I never did quite get around to putting in the fee and the request form to have the library acquire the first book in the trilogy. Life was so hard in the nineties.


My biggest regret with this is that I didn’t read this book in the 90s. Teenage me would have lapped this up. Sentient dinosaurs! (wikipedia says Tyrannosaurid, but it is a plot point that Quintaglios had five fingers, and you know me – that’s the kind of thing I get stuck on.) It’s mostly world building – and pretty interesting world building as well, but teenage me probably wouldn’t find it anywhere near as predictable as adult me. And it’s the kind of science vs religious dogma plot teenage-me would totally relate to, but which adult-me finds very simplistic.

A young astrologer uses a newly invented telescope (the Far-seer) to observe stars and moons and planets and the Face of God and discovers a Round Earth, heliocentrism, and the oncoming end of the world all at once. The theocratic monarchy is appalled at his blasphemy! A secret society of oppressed pagans hold him up as the Chosen One! He’s Galileo and Jesus all rolled up into one and both the protagonist and the author only give like a paragraph to pondering the contradiction in having Convenient Prophesies around to help story progression in an allegory about science vs dogma.

Buuut you know what? Even if cynical, older, “it’s more complicated than that” adult me was thinking what a shame it was that I didn’t read this when I would have enjoyed it more… I still enjoyed it. Because you know what? SENTIENT DINOSAURS. In a fantasy world constructed around the premise that non-social carnivores had to throw together social mores and etiquette just to get over the fact that they instinctively want to kill each other all the time. A civilisation built around the ergonomics of a large-headed biped with an enormous tail.


Who needs anything else?

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