The Dazzle of Day

Posted by : atcampbell | On : July 20, 1999

The Dazzle of Day by Molly Gloss

Six people showed up for this discussion, including one member we hadn’t seen in more than half a year. The Dazzle of Day is a science fiction novel about a generation ship filled with multiethnic Quakers. After a brief prologue set before the launch, most of the book is devoted to the generation that will reach the ship’s destination.

This book has interesting elements. The use of a Quaker society is an interesting innovation, and the book portrays it accurately as far as we could tell. The characters seem like they fit into this society. The author uses various types of personal relationships to portray cultural diversity. Gloss displays a great ability to display daily life with all its ticks. This book has more bathroom scenes than any other book we could remember. A member of our group who’d spent time with Quakers said that much of their humor is bathroom-related.

We found this book had several flaws. Not much happens in the story, so it lacks dramatic tension. We found the SF content minimal, and felt that the same basic story could have been set on Earth with ships or covered wagons instead of a spaceship. The individual characters seem too uniform, so the author’s device of telling different parts of the story through the voices of different characters seems ineffective. While we could see how these characters would work well in a closed society, none of them is interesting to read about. And the book does not even tell the ends of any of their stories, merely providing windows into brief segments of their lives.

While we appreciated Gloss’s writing a different and ambitious book, overall we didn’t enjoy it much. As one member put it, “rarely have I been so disappointed with a book so well written.”

— A. T. Campbell, III