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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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12/09/2007 Archived Entry: "Book review: The Last Days of Krypton"

The Last Days of Krypton
By Kevin J. Anderson
Published by Harper Entertainment

Review by Logan

I'll just cut to the chase: I struggled with this book. When I saw that noted sci-fi spin-off author Kevin J. Anderson had written a prequel to Superman's story, I rushed right out and bought a copy. As I started reading the novel, my excitement faded.

To be fair, I didn't hate the book. But, it was incredibly slow to get into. The key difficulty I had was with the narrative style. Anderson does a lot more telling than showing; he narrates instead of using interesting dialogue to give us glimpses into the characters' psyches. As a result, the characters are flat, seemingly stuck in a Phantom Zone of character development - never quite able attain a rich three dimensional quality.

I do admire the way Anderson weaves the various tales of Krypton into a nice cause-and-effect timeline. It starts with Jor-El creating the Phantom Zone, which leads to his meeting and falling in love with Lara. Then we see Zod's ambitions grow as he adds Jor-El's recently banned Phantom Zone to a secret stockpile of weapons. Next, an alien visits the xenophobic Krypton and makes fast friends with Jor-El. (It's this alien's ship that will eventually be Kal-El's escape pod.)

Next we see Braniac scoop up and miniaturize Kandor, Krypton's capital city. In the aftermath, Zod assumes control of a frightened and leaderless people. Thus begins the despotic reign of Zod. He uses one of Jor-El's other inventions to squash dissent, leading Zor-El to create a force field to protect his home Argo City. (It's this force field that protect Kandor for several years after Krypton explodes. This leads to the birth of Kara or Supergirl.)

The story depicts a Krypton that most of us would perhaps not envision. Kryptonians have attained a "perfect society" and their council of elders serves mostly to stifle scientific creativity. It's this failure to adapt and accept science that is eventually their undoing. I enjoyed this element of the story, and found it easy to relate to our own global issues and acceptance of science.

Anderson deftly collects most of what we know about Krypton via comics through the ages -- surely no small feat. However, despite the story line being well-constructed, the character development and narrative style are somewhat tedious. I'd only recommend this book if you're a huge Superman/Krypton fan.

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