When you’re reading something that’s so aggressively bad it makes your stomach hurt, it’s no great act of courage to invoke the 150 page rule. But when the book merely fails to entertain you, you can only set it aside with a twinge of regret. For example, I’m sorry that I gave up on The Collapsium, by Wil McCarthy. It has such a charming beginning:
In the eight decade of the Queendom of Sol, on a miniature planet in the middle depths of the Kuiper Belt, there lived a man named Bruno de Towaji who, at the time of our earliest attention, was beginning his 3088th morning walk around the world.
At first, I liked the fairy tale of the far future sensibility of the prose. But as the story unfolded, it just seemed more and more tedious. Bruno is absurdly rich and capable and famous, not to mention the ex-lover of the Queen of mankind. He’s called to save the Solar System from the faltering collapsium ring–which he does way too easily. Then he goes home and the whole first story is repeated, with the addition of a murder mystery–both of which he solves way too easily. It feels more like wish fulfillment than a good old-fashioned fairy tale.
By the time I hit the 150 page mark, the prose style was also getting old. It felt oddly like when I tried to read Stanislaw Lem. (My apologies to the many who like Lem.) As with Lem, I wanted to like this story, but I just couldn’t bring himself to care whether I finished reading it. I’d rather try again with another of McCarthy’s books.