OK, I had to post about this book after I that last book I discussed – because it got me thinking, sometimes I just get a kick out of a really crazy story. Speaking of rather out there books that I liked.. The Architect of Sleep by Steven Boyett is possibly the most out there book I've read in the past few years. I picked this up for 25 cents or something in a thrift store in Sedona last Christmas. It's out of print and Amazon doesn't have an official picture but if you click on the link to the amazon page there is a customer picture. Its somewhat …well I don't know if its a giant cat with an earring or what.. but it was cheap and I recognized the author's name because I'd read online that his book Ariel is worth reading (still have to find that book).
This is the general setup: Jim Bentley goes about his business on a typical day - feeds his dog, makes plans to see a movie with his girlfriend, checks in with work at his nightjob at a 7-11, and then goes spelunking for the day. Then his life is turned upside down when he goes through some kind of weird portal in the cave. Everything looks different, species almost extinct on Earth are plentiful and he can't find a sign of his vehicle or anyone else. And then he meets a raccoon who is much larger than raccoons he knows, and who is much more intelligent – able to use sign language to communicate. Jim says "Need I say it? I was Charlton Heston. This was Planet of the Raccoons". Isn't that AWESOME?!! Hello? A raccoon race using sign language?!? And there's so much more like how the government works and .. OK I think my credibility is going.. Well when I explain it like that – its about a race of intellegent racoons in a world where apes never evolved into humans.. it sounds very kooky, but its more interesting and less laughable to read than it sounds. And most reviewers on Amazon gave it 5 stars, so I'm not deluded, I sweaarr.
The story was very well written – Jim's emotions are believeable and the pace in which he learns about the culture and assimilates the language and what has happened feels real. This is written from the first person objective of both Jim and Truck (the first raccoon he meets). A great deal of thought has gone into explaining the sign language of the raccoons and their verb/tenses, which I found to be fascinating. Their hierarchy and the tale of civil unrest and intrigue was fascinating as well. I would say that the detail in the world building here is very well done, maybe even too well done.. - this book is the first part of a planned series and because of a disagreement with the publisher, there were no more books published. I think the publisher told the author – too much detail, cut out a lot of world-building things and the author disagreed and then bought back his contract. He may be kicking his younger self now though I'm sure at the time he didn't feel like the publisher was right. This is from the author's website:
"A few years ago I reread Architect & Geography. Midway through the second book I found myself thinking, Will you get to the damned point? It was too slow. There was too much detail. Background and foreground had traded places. It was as if my notes for the novel were in the novel. In other words, folks, Ace Books was right on the money in many of their comments. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. "
Steven Boyett's website indicates that he is working on the sequel(s) and on publishing it/them. More on that here: http://www.steveboy.com/archetyp.html (I found the whole explanation of what happened fascinating because I'm nosy and want to know that kind of stuff).