Stephenson has done it again, only better. The narrative here is less convoluted, with fewer characters to keep track of than The Baroque Cycle or CryStephenson has done it again, only better. The narrative here is less convoluted, with fewer characters to keep track of than The Baroque Cycle or Cryptonomicon. Instead his enormous gift for meticulously detailed invention is focused on the creation, not just of a world, but of an entire cosmology. One of the many, many things to love about this book is its unashamed and accessible celebration of intellect, knowledge and enquiry - everything from quantum physics to molecular biology to advanced geometry forms part of the warp and weft of the tale. It's more than a story set in an alternate reality - it's a novel of ideas about the meaning of reality itself and about how understanding transfers and transmutes between peoples and times. A feast for the enquiring mind....more
This was a really irritating read. I hadn't realised it was a YA (Young Adult) novel until I started it, but that in itself wouldn't have been a problThis was a really irritating read. I hadn't realised it was a YA (Young Adult) novel until I started it, but that in itself wouldn't have been a problem - a lot of my favourite novels are pitched at readers young enough to be my children. The problem is that while there is the potential for a great story here and some of the writing is occasionally good, the book for the most part is badly written and VERY poorly edited. I would almost venture to say unedited, as there are so many flaws and downright errors that you would think someone would have caught them if they had bothered to read it critically before publication (I wasn't trying to read critically, and they leapt out at me). It reads like a first draft, when ideas and rough dialogue are simply being dumped onto the page, not a finished product.
I'm not going to go into extensive detail - life's too short and I've already spent more time on this than it deserves. Examples include contradictory sentences within the same paragraph, incorrect words that seem to have slipped through simply because they wouldn't have triggered spellcheck ('quip' where the meaning of the sentence clearly requires 'clip' is particularly memorable), and plot developments that simply don't make sense in light of what has happened up to that point. The teenage love story is unbearably cheesy. Plot and character are underdeveloped and the tone is uneven; short, simplistic, frankly hackneyed sentences are overloaded with sophisticated adjectives. They'd be fine if the prose style itself was more sophisticated, but here they're just out of place. It's the sort of book where the author uses 'astute' instead of 'smart' even though the overall style of the writing, and the fact that the narrator is a 15-year-old boy, is such that 'smart' would be the better word.
All of this could have been fixed with help from a good editor and a bit more time and attention dedicated to the actual craft of writing. I'm sure of this because Pittacus Lore, whoever he or she is, is clearly not a talentless writer who'd simply stumbled onto a good idea. There are moments - unfortunately very brief - when the writing is quite wonderful. The first two paragraphs at the beginning of chapter 22 are a delight. Pittacus Lore has the ability to do far better than this, but sadly probably won't, as this book has somehow managed to be successful as it is. My edition includes the opening chapters of the sequel, which looks to be just as poor. I won't be reading it. ...more
A beautifully written, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching novel about a future in which what we think of as essential, innate human traits have been commodiA beautifully written, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching novel about a future in which what we think of as essential, innate human traits have been commodified - sexuality, masculinity, leadership, love, loyalty. The world-building is breathtaking. The protagonist is powerful, brave, brilliant, damaged and ultimately tragic. I think Black Man works on every level; lovers of the speculation of science fiction, the thrills of crime fiction and the craft of literary fiction should all find their respective itches scratched. It's known and appreciated within the SF community, but deserves to be far more widely read....more
There is not just one you, there are many yous. We're part of a multiplicity of universes in parallel dimensions - and Everett Singh's dad has found a
There is not just one you, there are many yous. We're part of a multiplicity of universes in parallel dimensions - and Everett Singh's dad has found a way in.
So begins the jacket copy for Planesrunner, Ian McDonald's first novel aimed at a YA audience. In truth it's also a great first novel for anyone unfamiliar with McDonald's work, or leery about novels full of heavy-duty science. McDonald builds Everett's story around his favourite themes of quantum physics and the possibility of an infinite multitude of parallel universes; but here he goes a little slower and explains a little more than in the very adult, densely packed storyscapes of Brasyl and River of Gods, which I found indisputably brilliant, but which would probably prove more challenging reads for someone completely unfamiliar with the ideas he riffs on.