Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Books read in 2017: No. 37 -- The Metal Monster

by A. Merritt

Started: Oct. 11
Finished: Oct. 25

Notes: Being a former newspaper journalist, I'm well aware of Merritt's accomplishments in that field, but he was also known to be a popular speculative writer in the early 20th Century, influencing such figures as Lovecraft. I've never read any of Merritt's fiction, and though I have some apprehension considering his prose is often criticized as being overly flowery (something I usually can't stand), I thought I'd give him a go. In this novel originally serialized in 1920, four Americans apparently stumble upon a secret army of robots hidden away in Asia and must save the world from the metal beasts.

Mini review: I learned something new from this book. I knew too much description could be a bad thing because it is often boring, which was not necessarily the case here, but I learned that too much description can actually be counter productive, that it can actually obscure instead of describe. I would have not thought that possible before reading this novel. Yes, Merritt's descriptions were lengthy, but they weren't necessarily dull. The problem is that there is so much description, it's difficult to actually see the scenery in one's mind. I suppose it didn't help that the description often referred to structures and creatures which would be quite alien to the human mind. Here the "robots" were actually anything but. They were living creatures with sort of a hive mind, and they were made of metal. Their origin is never fully explained, but it is hinted that they are an alien race from the darkness of space. I'll go no further in case anyone wants to read this. For me, I'm not likely to pick up any more of Merritt's work any time soon, but that's not to say I won't do so at some point, if nothing else to give him another shot at me. Besides, anyone interested in the history of speculative fiction could do worse.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I can sort of take Merritt or leave him. I've never really analyzed why but maybe its the description. Gonna have to give one of his books a read and see what I think