"World of Trouble" by Ben H. Winters

World of Trouble - Ben H. Winters

Life’s too short. More and more I’m finally starting to understand the value of my time.


I’ve spent many nights at the computer with reruns of Star Trek in the background. It used to help my brain unwind. I used to spend way too much time with Gaming (at the computer, on my tablet, etc) because I felt that unplugging was more beneficial than doing work-related stuff. That’s only partially temporization-related bullshit. I do feel better actually having time off, but once I’m in this state I get caught up in the inertia of being off and that’s not good. I have to find better ways to structure my time. This includes the time I spend reading.


As much as I’ve read, I’ve encountered books that were a pain to read. In the past, I’ve spent eye-rolling hours trying to wade through terribly writing (cough “Twilight” cough), awful plots, bothersome characters and a myriad of other literary sins because I wanted to either see what the fuss was all about or because I was a completist at heart. The books that I have the most difficult time with are the stories that have good writing, good characters, and in which somewhat interesting things happen – but I just don’t care about. It’s not that there’s anything really wrong with them, they are just…not for me. Is it an age thing? Is that the way my brain started to work past a certain age…?


What I’ve learned is that literary taste matters in writing, not just finesse. I can rant against the success of garbage (eg, “Twilight”, “Fifty Shades of Grey” and the likes), but the crux of the theme is that they matter to someone, even if they can’t tell quality from a hole in the ground. And maybe there is quality there I cannot enjoy. I found out that sometimes I tend to read things only to pick them apart to figure out what was “broken” for me. I am not a book quitter, but I think that there may be merit in doing it more often when a book is getting on my nerves, and maybe there really isn’t anything to feel guilty about, especially when there are so many more books I want to read (NB: I know I’ve got a problem: my digital TBR pile won’t fit on my Kindle, and that’s only the digital pile).


This leads me to the book in hand (figuratively speaking). As with the previous books ("The Last Policeman", "Countdown City"), the idea of the world about to collapse and under the pressures of an impending cataclysmic event has always been a great draw for me. What we have here on display is a wonderful story that was able to weave this tense thread throughout the narrative.


I’m a fiction addict and the genre matters not as long as the prose sings to me:


“I allow myself the last brief possibility that it will after all have been a dream, and that when I close my eyes tightly and open them again everything will be as it was – and I even try it, squeeze them shut like a child, press my knuckles into the lids, hold the pose until starbursts dance to life inside my eyelids.”


The prose's sung (again) with this novel. The last pages are just pitch perfect:

heartbreaking, tense, real. I had to close the book and shut my eyes for a moment just to let it all sink in.