Snare, Contact

Word count: 1000

I picked up Snare by Katharine Kerr because of the future Islamic fundamentalist angle. The Right Novel, which I didn’t start writing today after all, deals with the far future of Earth and post-Earth religions, and I’m curious how other people have addressed it. I also hadn’t read any Kerr, who’s known mainly as “the author of the beloved Deverry series,” and I’ve been picking up authors I’ve never read lately just to check out their styles.

I enjoyed Snare but it never quite came together for me. The genre was fantasy with misunderstood technology substituted for magic - I’m not sure whether that makes it swords-and-sorcery or not - and at a length of 600 pages it fits the fantasy genre better than sci-fi.

Four cultures inhabit the crowded world of Snare: the medieval Islamic fundamentalists (with three prophets and still counting), the comnee, who are lizard-hunting variants of American plains Indians, the post-French science types in the Cantons, and the oversized ChaMeech aliens. Only the aliens are interesting as a culture - the others haven’t changed much from their pre-modern roots. I was especially disappointed in the Moslems because I had hoped for the most from them.

The plot involved a bit of intrigue and a lot of travelogue revolving around the evil Khan, those who served him, and those who hoped to replace him. One of the bad guys turned out to be Misunderstood, the comnee try to save him from himself using psychobabble and tough love. When the ChaMeech get involved, the story perks up. Both ChaMeech and comnee have a problem with their gods, and all four cultures eventually discover the Truth about Snare. For Truth with a capital T it could have been more impressive or more intuitive, but it did pull the threads together well. Snare was a good yarn, but not as creative with the future as I’d hoped.

I’d heard good things about Contact but neither seen nor read it. Dr. Deb lent me her DVD and was glad to be rid of it. I can see why she didn’t like the movie, and why I did. Contact wasn’t at the level of M. Night Shyamalan, but like Signs it was a tale of faith rediscovered. That theme isn’t one you expect from sci-fi (whence comes Dr. Deb’s disappointment) and it included an anvil or two, but overall it worked well.

The romance disappointed me, however. Our Hero (Matthew McConaughey) wasn’t nearly as believable as Our Heroine (Jodie Foster). Celebrity demi-priest and New Age author isn’t as common a career as astronomer, (and there really aren’t that many astronomers out there). We don’t have much reason to respect Palmer Joss, and neither his offense nor his excuse for it later (because he “loves” her) are forgivable. When you consider exactly what his “love” almost cost Our Heroine, it’s truly horrifying. But take that one lame excuse out and you have a very good movie.

One Response to “Snare, Contact”

  1. Elise Says:

    Frankly, I think the book Contact was way better than the movie. I felt that the characters were difficult to get to know, and I ended up not caring at all about what happened. It’s possible I would have appreciated the movie more if I had read the book first, though.