I've read a lot of Philip Jose Farmer in recent months. I've liked very little of it. In fact, I'd started to think that my enjoyment of the Riverworld series was an anomaly, and that, to put it bluntly, Farmer was simply not a very good writer.
Dark is the Sun doesn't entirely confound that view; it's not a work of any particular genius. But it is head and shoulders above the World of Tiers series, to pick one example. It's so different that it reads as if it had been written by an entirely different author. Had I picked it up blind, I'd have assumed it to be a lost Piers Anthony novel from the 1970s, or a collaboration with him during that period. It has the same mounting introduction of novelty after novelty, and the same relentless, if somewhat facile, logical application of concepts. The sexism is limited and of its time rather than well past it. In short, it's like reading a book by a whole different author.
That doesn't mean this is a good book, but it's not a bad one. It's got an interesting world, decent (if into entirely credible) characters, and a challenging quest. There's not a lot of surprise, but there's plenty to keep you going. Of the half dozen Farmer books I've read recently, this is the only one that had me looking forward (slightly) to the next reading session, rather than looking for any excuse to put it off.
I can't say this is the Riverworld Farmer I remember and liked, but it's a lot like the Tarot and Cluster Anthony that I remember and liked. If you're a fan of those series, you might like this as well.
I received a free copy of this
book in exchange for an honest review.