I accidentally ordered this book while trying to request the movie featuring OutKast. While I was initially disappointed, I’m glad I got the heck over myself.
Sagan’s a relatively new talent on the SF scene. He uses Idlewild to talk about understandings of reality, memory, and innocence. He does this by introducing the reader to Gabriel Hall (AKA Halloween), the amnesiac narrator who wakes up in a pumpkin patch convinced someone’s trying to kill him. I think we’ve ALL been there.
Anyways, Halloween’s explorations lead him to question the very nature of the reality in which he finds himself. This is all sandwiched between an indexed conversation between two electronic hosts, and the last thoughts of the scientists responsible for the Gedaechtnis project, the mysterious organization responsible for Halloween’s eclectic education. The latter becomes an extended, luxurious character study, as these researchers confront the end of the world, their looming deadlines, and their own mortality. Halloween’s companions (especially the nutty, psychotic Fantasia, who divides the world into Nutrious and Delicious) are extremely fun as well, though Simone (everybody’s love interest — Halloween has, in fact, created a virtual reality character based off her to mess around with… ick much?) comes off as a tragically beautiful/fragile flower more often than not. There’s little there for characterization, except folks mentioning how smart she is (oddly, she never acts that way…) and constant reminders of her innate goodness (except if BIG SECRET SPOILER is true, then she’s as contaminated by insanity as everyone else… what the heck???).
Sagan’s definitely a writer to watch out for — if the piss-poor characterization of Simone was just a rookie mistake, then the rest of this series (which looks to cover the rebirth of humanity on a plague-striken planet) is going to be intensely good times.