A Short, Sharp Shock confirmed my impression that Robinson is a writer with a tremendous range. It is a novella of about 100 pages that is hard to categorize because of its bizarre, surreal content. The story is about a man who wakes up, washed ashore on an unknown beach, not remembering who he is or how he got there. Next to him is an unknown woman, and very soon a story of travel through a mysterious world starts, a story filled with adventure and meetings with odd and intriguing characters. Saying much more would spoil it, since it has to be read and experienced first hand, as if immersed in a dream.
It’s probably not science fiction, but it could be, if you think the protagonist is a space traveler stranded on another planet. Calling it fantasy is also a bit of a stretch, but there sure are fantastical elements to be found. This novella made me think first and foremost of Gene Wolfe, it’s not too different from the middle story that filled The Fifth Head of Cerberus. Continue reading