Imagine that there is a city where, whatever it is that you personally obsess about, they have it there and it is better than anything that you have ever found elsewhere. That’s the city in Palimpsest. How do you get there? Well, that’s the problem, isn’t it.
People who can go to Palimpsest can be identified by a strange tattoo or mark on their body – it takes the form of a fragmentary map of the city. You get this mark by having sex with someone who has previously been to the city, at which point you visit Palimpsest in a dream. Once you awaken, you’ll have a mark of your own: some new section of the city mapped on your own body. If you ever want to go back, you’ll need to have sex with another marked person, at which point you’ll experience the part of the city that they are marked with. So basically, the city is an addictive, sexually transmitted hallucination. The book follows the lives of four people as they chase their obsessions and try to find a way to get to the city for real.
I think I was the last of the people on the Crazy Hugo Project list to read this book, and I have to say I wasn’t looking forward to it. My wife’s review gives a good idea of what the prevailing opinion was, and I have to admit that I share it. If I had to choose between reading this again, or reading Anna Karenina again, I’d say, “Hand me the Tolstoy.”
Total Pages: 12,356