Season of Passage


Back in college, I worked in a bookstore. Well, in high school, too, but that was a different bookstore, in a different state. Having access to all sorts of books, what did I read? Yeah, science fiction, and fantasy (wizards and goblins, that sort). I also read a bunch of teen horror by Christoper Pike (heh, I wrote that Christofer. I guess Kris is getting to me). I pretty much read everything he wrote and published up until I stopped working at that bookstore (which, well, was the last time I worked at a bookstore, actually).

Pike wrote mostly teen horror (for readers 12 and up), which meant a book could be read in an hour or so, which worked well for my school schedule. I guess this fits in well with my general habit of reading books at most age groups, those some are definitely easier to read than others.

I really enjoyed those teen horror books. I can remember the general plots of several of them. One, an evil entity (they're all evil, really, when, if you think about it, they're evil only from the hero's perspective) invades the bodies of a small town's entire high school football team, giving them incredible strength but turns them into zombies, which the heros need to defeat to save the town from all becoming zombies. Or the book where a girl was murdered, only she wasn't, as she faked her murder to pin it on someone else, only another someone else really did kill her. Or the one where a girl's soul is transferred into a vulture, which is later killed when the girl as the vulture went to find her dad and well all crazy on him. The transferred soul was puzzled about why the frog they were dissecting in biology didn't come back to life.

Yeah. Fun stuff.

Pike wrote two books for adults, Sati and Season of Passage. I bought, I think in some discount bin, but I don't recall, the second book and, for over a decade, left it on my shelf unread. Oh, I tried to read it a couple times, but was really unable to actually stick with it. (Kinda sounds like Mote in God's Eye, Reality Dysfunction and Catch 22. Oh, and the Bible.)

Well, yesterday, I was finally (FINALLY!) able to start reading it. I can't say I particularly liked the writing style, but that's true of most books I read these days. I REALLY LIKE very few writers, with the common theme among the writers I do like is consistency from the narrator's point of view. Many writers will spoon feed every thought and action of every character, mostly in a mono structure format. Eragon was the absolute worst offender of this style. "He walked down the path. He stopped and looked up. He decided to keep walking. He continued to walk down the path." Boring, painful to read crap. The Bella Swan series is almost as painful to read. "He's so perfect. Oh, his voice is perfect. He's so beautiful. I'm a toad in comparison. Oh, I'm an uncoordinated clod whose mind can't be read by that perfect vampire. Oh, he's so beautiful." Gets tiring after listening to the 15 hours of "he's so perfect" crap interspersed with 30 minutes of plot.

But, yeah, back to the Season of Passage. I finally started reading it. After reading for about a day (400 pages, took me about six hours to read over two days, oddly enough), Kris asked if it was a good book. My answer was no, but I did keep reading.

When I was done, I, unsurprisingly, started ranting about the stupidity of the characters in the book. And when I say stupidity, I mean dumb, retarded, nitwit, stone stupidity of the characters, which should be smart, as they're NASA astronauts on a mission to Mars.

Since I'm 99% confident none of my friends are going to read this book (but if you REALLY REALLY want to, Google has a digitized version you can read), let me tell you how dumb these characters are.

So, the American mission goes to Mars. It's following a Russian mission which landed two years before, and perished. The American mission is going to land in one spot, check out some possible footprints in the sand of one photograph taken by a Rover craft from ten years ago (footprints that no one noticed in the pictures for years, mind you), then fly over to the Russian landing spot, and look for survivors.

Uh, sure. Two years on Mars, when the supplies would run out after two months? Ooooh-kaaaaay...

So, they land at the first spot. Hey, look at that, for a planet with no atmosphere, these 50 mile an hour winds are kinda weird. Oh, look, they're getting stronger. Oh, wow, now the sand is kicking up, and has blasted the paint off the side of our spacecraft. Maybe we better leave.

Um... paint? On a spacecraft?


So, they take off, back up to the orbitting station, head partway around the planet to see if they can land at the Russian landing area. Except that area is covered in a storm. No problem, land anyway, it's our mission.

Okay. Suspension of disbelief. Suspension of disbelief. Suspension of disbelief. That's what I'm chanting to get through this book. Suspension of disbelief. I can do it. Really, I can.

So, they land.

And find a survivor.

In a space craft with a temperature that's below freezing. "Oh, hey, well, maybe the human body adapted." Right. So, this "survivor" leads the expedition down a tunnel carved into the mountain they landed next to. Down down down they go, until they find a canal. Hey, let's follow this canal, so the CAPTAIN OF THE MISSION, the leader, goes BY HIMSELF with the survivor. His last words? "What? Hey!" Grunt, splash, loss of communication.

What do they think? The Russian survivor just killed their captain. What do they do?

They go after the captain.

Okay, fine, I think. They go after him. They find him alive, but weird. Okay, fine, alive, but weird. Fine. No problem.

But then the captain says, "Oooo, I've found something really nifty. Each of you needs to see it, but I need to take you there one at a time. I'll take you one a day for the next five days."

I think I forgot to mention that the entire crew is, at this point, down to their LAST GALLON OF WATER. Their last gallon of water. And the captain wants to take the next five days ferrying each person to see something really interesting in a hole that takes four hours to get there?

Okay, at what point does someone just think, "WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON? SHOOT THE BASTARD!"

I couldn't stand the book anymore. I just wanted to be done with it. There was exactly one nice plot finesse in the book that I really liked. It reminded me of Pike's teen horror books, and that part actually made me smile.

The rest of it made me want to chuck the book at the dog, who was wiping her butt on the rug.