Ship of Fools, Richard Paul Russo
I’m pretty sure nobody saw this one coming, and in all honesty, I tried more than once to scratch it off the list for something that would make more sense. The problem is, I can’t.
This book is not great science fiction. It’s not great horror. It’s not an epic adventure. And it’s not a great discourse on humanity and religion either. But when I stack it up against other books that are, this is the one I remember. This is the one that keeps popping its head back up, daring me to ask questions and refusing to give the answers.
There is an “aloneness” to the story that’s hard to describe. The characters are out in the middle of deep space with centuries of travel behind them and centuries presumably yet to come with no known destination to hope for. And then they come across a huge ship; blacker than night, drifting and abandoned. At least that’s what they think.
It’s interesting to read other people’s reviews of this book. Most are receptive if not a little cool, but others are adamantly negative. I think the main reason why is that Ship of Fools doesn’t tie things up in nice neat little bows. It’s a narrative, and it shows you what happens during a specific period of time, but it doesn’t tell you what any of it means. And it leaves you like that; simply left to wonder, with more questions than answers. A lot of people don’t like that. I don’t mind.
(also: Pretty much anything by Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, and Arthur C. Clarke)