This book leaves me with a lot of conflicting reactions. There were several times where I was a hair's breadth from just giving it two stars and puttiThis book leaves me with a lot of conflicting reactions. There were several times where I was a hair's breadth from just giving it two stars and putting it down in favor of another read. But I really hate doing that with books, and the novel within the book was just a little over 200 pages, so I decided, again and again, that I would just deal and get through it. (This version of the book also includes about another hundred pages of short stories which take place in-universe. Full disclosure, at the time I've only read the novel. I'll give some of those short stories a shot later on.)
I'm glad I didn't give up. I liked the book more and more as I went on, but the flaws and weaknesses run throughout. As an aspiring author I know it's not good form to give bad reviews on books, but I'm not published yet and I think there's something to be gained in examining the Schismatrix critically.
I want to start with the positives. It took me a while because it's so unassuming, but I got to say I eventually realized I was digging his prose. It's muted and doesn't call attention to itself, but is by no means flat and boring. Reading a sample of a current big sci fi hit, I was struck by how much I disliked the prose immediately. That shone light on how easily I had been able to settle and flow into the prose of Sterling.
I also gotta give it up to him for sheer originality and scope. This little book is overflowing with ideas and scenarios that would show up decades later in books like Leviathan Wakes and The Quantum Thief. And in a sense, the books downfall is the other side of the coin here. Like I said, Schismatrix is only about 237 pages. But the book spans nearly two centuries.
As we flew from new sets of characters and environments and philos0phical war grounds over and over again, I realized I didn't understand why the main character was doing anything he was doing. I didn't understand his antagonist either. It's like we are given all the peak scenes from a much more epic novel, but without the meat and sinew and color holding it all together. Nothing had weight or purpose or any kind of resonance with me until a few moments toward the very end. And that -- the lack of emotional connection caused by lack of understanding and time spent -- is why I came so close to giving up on this over and over again.
In a world where Schimatrix is a 4 or 5 star novel, it may actually need to be a trilogy of books, or at least one significantly longer novel, like 600 to 800 pages. But that's not the world we live in.
So 3 stars, worth checking out if you really want to explore the cannon of posthumanism and solar system-centered space opera....more
Nock is a fast paced father-daughter adventure 10 years in to the zombie apocalypse. The action and tension build quickly, and the world building is dNock is a fast paced father-daughter adventure 10 years in to the zombie apocalypse. The action and tension build quickly, and the world building is deftly handled. I could easily see this expanded into a full length novel. ...more