Reviews of Unreasoning Mask, the (1981)
Review by ropie (2005-08-14)
In David Pringle's Top 100 Science Fiction novels of all time, 'The Unreasoning Mask' is described as "One of the great books of modern sci fi". Certainly it is one of the most mystical, dealing in reasonably concise and straightforward terms with cross-religious issues to do with God and the nature of the universe.
The novel's great strength is its continual inventiveness - each new chapter brings a minor revelation. Combined with Jose Farmer's action-packed writing this makes for a novel that is highly satisying to read without giving away much to simple thrill-seeking. It really can be read quite quickly but the major issues are never anything less than right at the front of the prose.
Perhaps some will find the ending just a little too tantalizing but there are many questions (as with all great, thought-provoking novels) that are left un-answered, and the ending is just another one of those. That's not to say that enough information isn't given to enjoy the novel - it is, and in brilliantly economic language.
Ultimately, it has to be said that this is a fast-paced, short and intelligent novel that could easily stand up in the midst of the 'Science-Fiction Masterworks' series, and probably should.