I feel like all the Kage Baker books I’m reading should qualify for the Once Upon a Time Challenge, because they do feel more like fantasy than science fiction. However, despite their genre-bending qualities, they have cyborgs, and the time travel is done with machines. So Jeanette Winterson’s Weight, a retelling of the myth of Atlas and Hercules, is my first read for the Once Upon a Time Challenge, in which I am pretending I am not really taking part.
Weight is a book about looking for new ways to tell stories. That is a theme that I love. It’s a retelling of a Greek myth. I love Greek myths, although admittedly Hercules was never my favorite. It’s a myth retelling that isn’t afraid of leaving the old story behind to make a better story. I support that. It intersects Greek mythology and the science of planets and space travel in a way that I can only describe as adorable.
Yes, adorable. You will see what I mean if you read it.
As I wrote down all those good things about Weight, I felt fonder and fonder of it, and I had to think very hard about why I did not finish it feeling satisfied. The problem wasn’t that it was short, it’s a novella really – I liked that. Atlas and Hercules is a smallish myth, and I am not sure it would have worked to spin it out longer. It was more that Jeanette Winterson could not settle down to anything. She’d be with Atlas for two paragraphs and then fwoosh, away she’d go about planets and other things, and fwoosh, here we are with Hercules feeling mysterious guilt feelings and fwoosh here is his wife and fwoosh here is Atlas again… I dunno, I found it disorienting. Hence I cannot altogether rejoice in Weight because it made me feel like a hyper six-year-old deprived of her Ritalin.
Let me know if I missed yours!