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Dexter Palmer

Autor(a) de Version Control

3+ Works 1,403 Membros 101 Críticas 4 Favorited

About the Author

Dexter Palmer is a science fiction author. His novels include The Dream of Perpetual Motion and Version Control. (Bowker Author Biography)
Image credit: Photo credit: Bill Wadman

Obras por Dexter Palmer

Version Control (2016) 618 exemplares
The Dream of Perpetual Motion (2010) 606 exemplares
Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen (2019) 179 exemplares

Associated Works

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2016 (2016) — Contribuidor — 167 exemplares
The Bestiary (2016) — Contribuidor — 58 exemplares
Lost Worlds & Mythological Kingdoms (2022) — Contribuidor — 31 exemplares


Conhecimento Comum



I know not what will become of her, but I hope that her punishment will be light. For who can condemn a person for deceiving others who were so willing to deceive themselves? Which of us does not have a devil that lives inside of us, whispering not what is true, but what we wish to believe, out of innocence or cupidity or a hundred other reasons? We must stay ever vigilant against that demon, ever on watch against his pleasing music - if the tale of Mary Toft has any moral at all, it is this.

Writing a novel around the 18th Century historical case of Mary Toft, hoaxer and alleged birther of rabbits, Palmer has written a timeless examination of human nature, and an outstanding literary achievement.

Palmer sets out his intentions in the first pages, where we see provincial physician John Howard struggling to read English philosopher John Locke’s masterpiece “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.” Palmer’s going to be concerned, while writing an entertaining story, with the question of ‘How do humans come to understand what they regard as truth?’ Is truth an objective reality, existing outside of the human mind, not subject to the realm of human passions? Or is truth an agreed upon conjecture shared between human minds, and thus changeable, and malleable, and open to manipulation by forces that do not mean well? “I am led to consider that the latter possibility may be the case,” says Howard, “that our world has some secret horror that I cannot fathom if so, controlling the minds of men though it is impossible to perceive with our senses alone.”

But to quote Leonard Cohen, you want it darker. So Palmer retells the fable of the king and the invisible cloak but changes the ending; no longer is the king exposed by the solitary truth teller, enabling the crowd to admit and see the truth for themselves. In this telling, a father brings his young son out to see the procession and when the king passes by and his son utters the infamous line "but he's naked", the father knows what he must do - break his son's neck, thus sacrificing what should be most dear to him to protect his, and the crowd's, illusions. After murdering his son as the king's procession stops in shock at the child's words, the father feels no shame, no guilt. On the contrary:
"The tradesman looked up at the king again, and the monarch smiled down at the tradesman with pleasure. And the robe the king wore had become, somehow, even more dazzling: its fabric had manifested as a rippling mirror, which reflected the tradesman back to himself as what he imagined himself to be, and as he once was, and as he would become. For a brief moment the tradesman had experienced what one might call a vision, some sort of devilish illusion, the details of the matter too embarrassing to repeat; but that cursed vision was gone now, and the hurrahs of the crowd grew ever louder and more frenzied as the team of horses pulled the king's wagon onward."

I mean, that is dark.

Who can dismiss that fear, reading human history or just looking around oneself? Palmer somewhat lessens the bleakness of this appraisal by writing with great humanity and empathy for his characters: the hoaxers, the educated dupes, the uneducated dupes the educated ones look down on, the ones who take advantage where they can. Everyone perhaps but the rich elite, represented here as utterly amoral Lords whose wealth warps their characters and destroys their humanity.

Philosophy and literary fiction make excellent bedfellows in skilled hands like Palmer’s.
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lelandleslie | 12 outras críticas | Feb 24, 2024 |
The angle it takes on time travel is a nice one, arguing that a time traveler to the past would be unable to know what history had originally been when she returned to point in time she left, because now that history would never have happened. And not only would comparing the new present time to the previous present time be impossible, but she would not even know that she had ever gone back to the past, as the historical timeline in which she went back to the past never happened after she went to the past and thus altered history. The characters come to this theory only after... well, after who know how many times it happens. And who knows what the world's history had originally been like. So that'll all give the reader's brain cells something to occupy themselves with. Plus the novel dismisses the multiverse theory - I'd like to give it kudos for that!

Other layers of dislocation are added on, taking the novel from "genre" to "literary sci-fi". This passage stuck out for me, from the point of view of "Carson", an African-American physicist - possibly an alter-ego for the author to some degree?
It was about then that Carson figured that going into a science major would involve dealing with a lot less day-to-day bullshit. The message was clear: that while the work of Corey's white students would be taken at face value, whatever Carson turned in was doomed to be read through the lens of his race. If the story was not explicitly about race, then the tale would instead be of his reluctance to speak on the one subject that, surely, must occupy all his waking thoughts.
The fact of the matter was that Carson did tend to avoid talking about race: not because he was afraid to confront certain nebulously defined truths about himself, but because he found the subject to be excruciatingly uninteresting...
A career doing science would be a way around all that.
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lelandleslie | 45 outras críticas | Feb 24, 2024 |
A really good read! It took a while to get into it, but once I did, I couldn't put it down. I actually checked out an audio version of it as well as a print copy, so I could "read" while commuting!
jilldugaw | 45 outras críticas | Jan 27, 2024 |
The only book to deal with the need to account for Earth's movement through space when traveling through time. (Sorry. I just needed to acknowledge that, because it's something that has bugged me for decades.) This is one of those books which, in addition to having an engaging plot, offers up lots of little observations about life and people which should bear remembering. (The downside of audiobooks is that it can be hard to mark those tidbits when listening while doing other things. So I don't have any examples to offer up.)
[Audiobook note: January LaVoy is a magnificent reader.]
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1 vote
Treebeard_404 | 45 outras críticas | Jan 23, 2024 |



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