Thanks for tip about Gilead. I just found I can get the ebook from my library as a loan, so I'll probably read it.

The example you provided is, unfortunately, monologue, not dialog so it isn't really germane. Nevertheless, it's easy to appreciate that the monologue is conveying a lot of information. It's also raising a lot of questions, though, and I'm not sure that's such a good thing at the start of a novel. If you can come up with a novel beginning with dialog I'd be interested in hearing about it. I'm sure they exist; I just can't understand how the problems I mentioned can be overcome.