SLEEP­ING GI­ANTS

Does it de­serve a big hand?

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Reviews - Guy Ha­ley

re­leased 21 April 306 pages | Hard­back/ pa­per­back/ ebook

Au­thor Syl­vain Neu­vel

Pub­lisher Del Rey

Hav­ing your book op­tioned for a movie be­fore it’s even been pub­lished is most au­thors’ dream, so well done to Cana­dian writer Sylvaine Neu­vel on his de­but, Sleep­ing Gi­ants.

As a young girl, Rose Franklin falls into a hole con­tain­ing a gi­ant alien hand. Years later, she ends up on a re­search pro­ject ex­am­in­ing this de­vice. Af­ter it’s dis­cov­ered to be part of a huge ro­bot, a govern­ment con­spir­acy is set in train to re­trieve the rest of the parts for the US be­fore any­one else can fig­ure out what’s hap­pen­ing.

The mode of sto­ry­telling is the book’s most en­gag­ing as­pect: it’s a mod­ern- day form of the epis­to­lary novel, told mostly as a se­ries of in­ter­views with var­i­ous char­ac­ters and the mys­te­ri­ous, never- named head of the pro­ject. For the most part it works well, al­though cred­i­bil­ity is stretched in sev­eral seg­ments where the un­named pup­pet­mas­ter is lis­ten­ing in on live events, as char­ac­ters de­scribe in ex­act­ing de­tail what’s hap­pen­ing to them in un­re­al­is­tic fash­ion.

The pub­lisher likens the story to In­ter­stel­lar, The Mar­tian and Grav­ity, but it’s not in the same league. Sleep­ing Gi­ants pro­vides a frac­tion of the fas­ci­nat­ing, real- life sci­ence of The Mar­tian, for ex­am­ple. Es­sen­tially, the story is the find­ing of an anime- style mecha, with a love tri­an­gle as the main plot drive. The Que­be­cois lin­guist char­ac­ter is so bor­der­line Mary Sue it comes close to grat­ing.

And not very much re­ally hap­pens in terms of brain- pop­ping SF. There’s a lot of run­ning about that feels a tad like stuff­ing. It’s part one of a larger story that per­haps could have been much com­pressed. As a re­sult, even as the prose style pro­pels you to the end, you re­alise you’re not go­ing to get much bang for your buck. Fun, but far from es­sen­tial.

The book was op­tioned by Sony last year. David Koepp ( Juras­sic Park, Spi­der- Man) is adapt­ing it into a screen­play.

Not in the same league as The Mar­tian

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