Long I have waited to review a piece by Mr Keller, since I have now received the same pleasure not once but twice. They say revenge is a dish best served cold; I prefer it plattered as prose…
Just kidding, Nick! Thought I’d get you worried there before I started… Can’t a reviewer have a little fun now and then?
A penetrating study into the cosmic, ‘Dr Tower’s Babel’ tears apart the fabric of the Universe at the same time as it strips down the superficialities and preoccupations of Social Man. Space exploration is given whole new meaning; space-time is flipped over sunny-side down. Indeed, as Dr Tower’s spends a lifetime trying to build his great Unraveler, Mr Keller manages to unravel in 41 pages a new meaning of life: outside Time and outside the Self.
Conceptually, this is a highly original story that provides a great deal of pleasure to the reader. The final pages, as our protagonist’s world is thrown into rewind, feel almost transcendental. As this new vision of the universe is revealed and the beginning of existence given a new face, the startling realization that, all this time, God was an astrophysicist, becomes common sense; what else would He be?
The story is lengthy in its build up to this original denouement, the plot stretched out over decades, breaking Poe’s rule that short stories should also take place within a short time frame. Seeing as the author is breaking all the laws of physics, however, the reviewer will let it slide.
If Mr Keller is committed to the story’s length, then some of the prose could do with tightening in just a few places. If cutting is not anathema to the writer, then significant chunks could be sacrificed to the Red Pen without losing value; a good story only has what is absolutely necessary.
The current structure, I think, is perhaps the root cause for the length. Aside from the introduction, which is sliced from the centre of the story, the chronological build up from the protagonist’s early days means it is a long road to the final act. A friendly suggestion would be to start the story later in the plot and fill in background through the narrative. This would keep the time frame on a shorter leash, while still allowing for expansive explorations into the past.
In terms of character, the eccentric Dr Towers plays his role perfectly, convincing the reader of the aphorism that the line between genius and insanity is a thin one. However, the protagonist, while clearly delineated as a towering intellect in his own right, (winning the Nobel Prize so young even!) there are significant lapses in judgement on his part, particularly for someone so intelligent. The important career decision based on a single obscure book; the rather too late realization that Towers is an isolated scientific figure; these are a few of his out-of-character faults inconsistent with someone so well read and studious.
Otherwise, a thoroughly enjoyable read that sends the mind reeling off into the outer limits of the imagination. I recommend!
Review of: Dr. Towers' Babel (rev)
reviewed by CJForster on 09/13/2011
Other Reviews by CJForster 13
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