It's been a very long time since I read Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett, so I want to be cautious in my comparison. However, I was left with theIt's been a very long time since I read Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett, so I want to be cautious in my comparison. However, I was left with the feeling that the descriptions and repartee seemed to follow in their footsteps. I wouldn't say it was quite a Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe detective, but it worked in this general kind of detective story. Meanwhile, there was interesting world-building in the future society.
If you're the kind of reader who will spot aspects of a novel where some of the parts weren't carefully attached to each other or the reason for a certain element isn't clarified, you may find some here. This is primarily a detective mystery, not an attempt to accurately portray a future society we might find ourselves in.
I had mixed feeling about the ending. Probably, in part, because of what I've been trained to expect. However, there is some logic to it - for the kind of character who sees the dark side of the world he lives in, but doesn't throw in the towel.
The story revolves around the concept of the "observer effect" in quantum physics (the idea that what occurs in the world is based on multiple possiblThe story revolves around the concept of the "observer effect" in quantum physics (the idea that what occurs in the world is based on multiple possible variants each of which exists simultaneously until some sort of "observation" causes a single version to become the only reality).
Readers who can experience the bizarre consequences of Egan's interpretation of quantum physics as magic - and can flow with the magic making its rules as it goes along - will find a unique and incredible landscape.
I've struggled with the unsatisfying oddities of the observer effect, wave-particle duality and such in the past. The thing is, (for me) experimental results don't seem to give a coherent picture, as I tried to express a few years ago in this short article: http://hardsf.org/Ques2Slt.htm
As a result, the book brought up my problems with "quantum philosophy". I doubt this will impact many readers as it affected me. So, my rating of the book probably has less to do with the literary or speculative quality of the book than it reflects how the above issues complicated my reading of it.
The book begins as an SF detective mystery, but transitions to a story about trying to understand possible ramifications of the observer effect (and controlling it). The book also envisions using nanotech to "rewire" areas in a person's brain in order to perform functions other books describe as being done by "neural implants"....more
I really liked Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun, but this book seemed to move slowly. That is the primary issue with the first 99% of the book. HoweveI really liked Caves of Steel and The Naked Sun, but this book seemed to move slowly. That is the primary issue with the first 99% of the book. However, this book is a (science fiction) mystery and the true solution to the puzzle comes in the last 1%. In that 1%, the "solution" has serious scientific issues.
That can't be explained without spoiling the mystery. Read below at your own risk.
--- spoilers ---
The solution hinges upon a "mind-reading" robot. What makes this so implausible is: (1) the ability was created accidentally, (2) it's presence as an ability to perceive thoughts from both humans and robots, and (3) it's actually more than just "mind reading". There are the usual scientific issues with supposed telepathy, telekinesis, etc. It's hard to believe even if an accidental feature allowed a robot to perceive the thoughts of an organic human brain made of normal matter, that it would also do the same for a manufactured positronic "brain" in a robot. There's the fact this "mind reading" robot can also affect the thinking of others using his "mind reading" ability. So, we're not just talking about passive reception of thoughts from others, but an active ability to alter others' thinking - and (again) somehow this applies to both human and robot brains. (If this weren't Asimov with his "positronic" robot brains, we might speculate that the robots had vat-grown organic brains - which might make it more plausible that these abilities worked on both humans and robots.) While human brains have electrical activity, and it's possible to detect aspects of that activity - "reading" that is very different. Doctors can monitor three people's brain activity, and two of them can be thinking "Isaac Asimov wrote the Robots of Dawn", but the doctors won't be able to tell you which two were thinking the same thing (even without know what that same thing was). And what means would one use to modify what someone else was thinking just by wanting it to happen? The idea is stretched way too far for me to find it a satisfying mystery solution. ...more
Good light reading. A "mercenary" (closer to a private investigator) is asked to look into a man's disappearance on a planet with a government suppresGood light reading. A "mercenary" (closer to a private investigator) is asked to look into a man's disappearance on a planet with a government suppressing dissenters. The journey to find the man is more of an adventure - it doesn't have the feel of a detective solving a mystery. Some amusing aspects....more
SF mystery. A lot of background about the protagonist prior to the plot(s) of this book. Perhaps reasonable if you're planning to read the whole serieSF mystery. A lot of background about the protagonist prior to the plot(s) of this book. Perhaps reasonable if you're planning to read the whole series. But this can be read as a stand-alone novel and it's a lot of pre-story if you're only reading this volume.
It would fall in the "mystery" category, but it doesn't have the same kind of explanation of the solving of the puzzle(s) as in sleuth stories. Nevertheless, it's not a simple case.
After the pre-story, the events take place on route to Venus and on a space station in orbit around Venus....more
Maybe a bit less than 4 stars. Private Detective story - multiple clients, various suspects, thugs, woman trying to seduce him to sidetrack his investMaybe a bit less than 4 stars. Private Detective story - multiple clients, various suspects, thugs, woman trying to seduce him to sidetrack his investigation, corporate mischief, wheels within wheels, etc. Interesting future setting. Not what you'd call a hard-boiled PI. The PI is a "psychic investigator" - but that's essentially intuition, "luck" and some dreams which have clues if you can figure out what they mean. So it didn't really incite my aversion to "psychic powers" in SF....more
Entertaining. I seemed to enjoy it more than I can give a reason for. Maybe because I'd just finished reading a book about economics, so something lesEntertaining. I seemed to enjoy it more than I can give a reason for. Maybe because I'd just finished reading a book about economics, so something less seri ous suited me. It's more "light reading" than is more common for me... A romp through interstellar corporate intrigue & adventure....more
An unusual book. Haiku is a social critic in a dystopian future. Chapters alternate between his commentary / rant articles [giving background and atmoAn unusual book. Haiku is a social critic in a dystopian future. Chapters alternate between his commentary / rant articles [giving background and atmosphere] and the action. It's a fascinating world of AIs, robots, aliens, uplifted animals, replicators, nanobots, and much more. And restricted liberties, overly powerful police, corporate control, pollution, etc.
During his 8 years excluded from journalism, he's posted commentaries surreptitiously on the web under a pseudonym. Then he's coerced into taking a job writing his commentaries for a newspaper. Then his boss is murdered and he's a top suspect. He has a few days to find the real killer before he's put away by a security agent with a grudge against him.
This book probably isn't for everyone, but I found it to be a good read with food for thought. That's worth noting as it's from an essentially unknown writer and is being offered for free download online. http://www.lulu.com/content/content_d... ...more
Deadstock does a good job of portraying a unique future world. The story keeps you involved. There's an interesting mix of action and mystery. In oneDeadstock does a good job of portraying a unique future world. The story keeps you involved. There's an interesting mix of action and mystery. In one plot thread, there's action with a street gang fighting bio-engineered creatures they encounter while looking for a missing gang member. In the other plot thread it's more of a mystery. (It wouldn't be the most effective mystery by itself, but in combination it works well enough.)
This isn't for "serious reading", but should be good for "entertaining reading". ...more
I marked as being on my "Mystery" bookshelf (as well as "science fiction"). However, the story is closer to "espionage", although not quite what I'd uI marked as being on my "Mystery" bookshelf (as well as "science fiction"). However, the story is closer to "espionage", although not quite what I'd usually expect if I was told a book was espionage.
There's a good pace and a good writing style. The story takes place in the context of an interplanetary human civilization which has no starships. There are tensions between the political blocs of the inner planets and the outer planets. Mars, being near the border between the two blocs, feels more at risk and therefore more militarily-inclined.
A previously unknown work by a sculptor who died 20 years earlier gives hints of a large quantity of a mineral composed of trans-Uranium elements - a mineral that is priceless. (The mineral is believed to be left over from interstellar aliens visiting the solar system over a million years ago.) There seems to be a connection to a vanished religious group. Meanwhile, there is a series of thefts of artworks at several locations around the solar system.
While trying to make sense of these clues, we travel to places on Earth, the Moon, Mars and the asteroid belt... ...more
I clicked on 3 stars for the rating, but it deserves a bit more than that.
The book has interesting portrayals of how different groups of people mightI clicked on 3 stars for the rating, but it deserves a bit more than that.
The book has interesting portrayals of how different groups of people might perceive and choose to exist in a far future.
I had a number of reservations about it. First, I read it as part of Across Realtime (an omnibus of The Peace War, The Ungoverned and Marooned In Realtime). Each of the works in omnibus had some threads connecting them to the other, but I didn't think they made a cohesive unit. Rightly or wrongly, I was expecting more than an anthology of works placed in a common conceptual universe, and it didn't really work out as expected.
Marooned in Realtime is an SF mystery, and I like SF mysteries. But for my tastes, this was overly complex. The mystery itself is confused by various factional disputes among humans, various fanatics (a self-declared prophet of the third coming of Jesus, a guy warning of aliens planning to wipe out humans, etc.), questions about how most of the human race disappeared in the 23rd century... There's so much more going on than a number of people with grudges against the victim, and more to the resolution than finding the killer.
And because there's so much more, the book goes a bit beyond the naming of the murderer - and yet leaves so many other things unfinished.
So, SF mystery readers may prefer to read Marooned In Realtime by itself rather than part of Across Realtime. And it may appeal more to those who like greater complexity. And it will help if you don't mind not having everything wrapped up and put away at the end. ...more