Book: Growing Up Weightless by John M. Ford

Very good though somewhat more conventional than the author's work usually is

John M. Ford
Growing Up Weightless
Bantam, 1994
ISBN: 0-553-56814-0
Out of print; inexpensive used copies seem to be readily available as of this writing
261 pages

I've written before about John M. Ford's books (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and I've generally liked them very much. The only qualm I occasionally have about them is that sometimes (or maybe often) he reveals things important to the plot only indirectly. That can make his books a bit of work to read for pleasure. If you miss some implication, you can end up rather at sea regarding the progression of the plot. Happily, that doesn't apply to Growing Up Weightless. Indeed, it's the most "normal" of Mr Ford's books that I've read. It's a science-fiction book in that it's set on the Moon (or Luna as the characters call it), but there's no reason that it has to be. Indeed, one of the more important events involves a train trip. Mr Ford seems almost deliberately to stay away from the conventional trappings of science fiction here; there's little that's critical to the story that doesn't exist now or, indeed, didn't exist a hundred years ago.

What is the book about then? It's about a group of young friends who play adventure games together, their relationships, and the main character's growing up. The main character, Matthias Ronay, is a teenager whose father is an important bureaucrat on an independent Luna. In addition to playing games, he takes acting classes with a youth theater company, is fascinated by space ships, and doesn't much care for people from Earth. His relationships with all of those things change over the course of the novel.

As usual with Mr Ford's novels, his characters are memorable and the world he creates is detailed, persuasive, and credible. (He does seem to describe his characters' clothing in a little more detail than necessary sometimes, but it doesn't get in the way.) Growing Up Weightless is a fine novel even if it's rather unlike much of Mr Ford's other work.

Whoever at the publisher specified the type for the book didn't do it any favors. It's set in an extended Clarendon face that I find distracting to read as novel type.

Posted: Sat - June 25, 2005 at 06:01   Main   Category: