“There Are No Countries” by Marshall Smith- An SPSFC Review

I’m reading and reviewing many books from the Self-Published Science Fiction Contest as a judge. Check out my many posts from the SPSFC (scroll down for more).

There Are No Countries by Marshall Smith

It’s difficult to figure out how to begin a review of There Are No Countries. I could start with a plot summary, but that would make it sound too mundane. I could start with some comments about the strangely psychedelic cover, which is alluring and off-putting by turns. Instead, I started as I did here, bemoaning how to begin, as nothing seems quite right to say about it.

There Are No Countries is a story of colonization. Perhaps that’s where to start. There are no sentient species on the planet of Dandros, but there is a castle, from which emanates memories (???) of a traveler named Doug, whose interactions with a being he calls the Goddess are captivatingly strange and sporadically narrated throughout the story. Alongside that, there’s a story of colonization and victory, but only revealed in spurts and half-starts.

The characters are both intimately close and only vaguely present. Reading the story is like wading into a soup of existence and thought, bombarding the reader from multiple perspectives and stories all at once. It doesn’t always make sense, and Smith doesn’t hold the reader’s hand at all. This is one that I feel the strong need and desire to re-read to see if I conceptually am picking up everything there is to find. Indeed, I think this one deserves a slow, peaceful read.

There’s no way to resist comparing this to the New Wave science fiction of the 1960s-70s. The cover is one indicator, but the structure (or structurelessness) of it is another. It reads like a novel stepping into today out of that time, with all the grandeur, splendor, and foibles of the time.

There Are No Countries is science fiction that hearkens back to the zaniest New Wave science fiction. I loved it.

All Links to Amazon are Affiliates


The Self-Published Science Fiction Contest (SPSFC) Hub– Check out all of my posts related to the SPSFC here!

Science Fiction Hub– I have scores of reviews of Hugo nominees, Vintage Sci-Fi, modern sci-fi, TV series, and more! Check out my science fiction related writings here.

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.