This novella has won both Hugo and Nebula, a big distinction. I like to occasionally read what’s the art-critics like in the genre, so delved in.
What to Expect
A short read where nothing much happens — this is a story delving into the way progress changes people, as viewed through the interactions on an engineering project. It follows the lead architect over a five year span, completing a bridge across a mystical river, with some flashbacks to his youth. There isn’t much drama, just small interactions of people going about their lives and dealing with each other, with loss, with life.
What I liked
The prose is gentle and charming, flowing well. The characters are engaging even through the short narrative. The fantasy world, specifically the mist, is left unexplained. It is there to inspire a sense of awe at the strangeness of it, not to speculate on the effects of magic or setting on society and the world.
What to be aware of
As mentioned above, the conflict here is a muted, man-against-nature type. The interest lies in the character change and interactions, not in any sense of adventure.
Felix only comment was that you’ll get more bang for your time from Julius Frontinus’ report on the maintenance of aqueducts — he said this novella useful neither for engineers nor thrill seekers.
An interesting read, especially for authors who hear that they need more conflict in their works. Read this if you’re in the mood for something literary.
Enjoying the reviews, but wondering who the heck is that Felix fellow? Glad you asked! He’s the protagonist of the Togas, Daggers, and Magic series, an historical-fantasy blend of a paranormal detective on the background of ancient Rome. Come meet him on the free short stories and novels!