A Description of the Blazing World

A Description of the Blazing World

A Novel

Book - 2011
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After Morgan Wells's wife leaves him, a postcard from France arrives. It is addressed to a Morgan Wells--but not the Morgan Wells who receives it. Desperate to be led out of his despair, Morgan decides to read the postcard as a sign and embark upon a surreal journey to find, observe, and meet the other Morgan Wellses in the city of Toronto.

On the day that a 2003 citywide power outage submerges Toronto in darkness, a teenage boy finds a missive of his own: a copy of Margaret Cavendish's The Blazing World , one of the first science fiction novels ever written. The boy, obsessed with the Choose Your Own Adventure series, interprets the coincidence of finding the book during the blackout as a premonition, and begins looking for proof that the end of the world is near.

A Description of the Blazing World interlaces two narratives in a novel about the city in the new millennium: a crowded space that incubates signs of an apocalypse that never quite materializes. But it is this very threat of imminent danger--that everything could go up in blazes--that drives a reclusive man and a lonely boy to search for their respective revelations.

Publisher: Calgary : Freehand Books, [2011]
Copyright Date: ©2011
ISBN: 9781551117300
Branch Call Number: MUR
Characteristics: 234 pages ;,21 cm

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SCL_Justin Aug 05, 2017

I was disappointed with Michael Murphy’s A Description of the Blazing World. The back blurb suggested a surreal story drawing ties between mysterious postcards, choose your own adventure books, the first science fiction novel and the big 2003 blackout in Ontario. The book had all those elements but it didn’t combine them in the way that I hoped.

There’s a man who gets obsessed with two people who have the same name as him, but his part of the story is creepy and he’s unsympathetic. The story of the teenage boy sent to live with his brother for a couple of weeks where he finds a mysterious copy of a book that has clues to his disappeared father is just annoying. I think the big problem is that neither of the main characters have any insight into anything. They just do things you as a reader can tell are bad ideas. It’s all a bit pointless and in the end it all gets laid out very clearly what happened.

Finally, on the craft side of things, I must be spoiled by Ryan North, but if you’re making Choose Your Own Adventure stories part of your novel and you present choices (with page numbers) in the context of the story, it is disappointing to the extreme that there’s nothing at the pages you choose to turn to.

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