The concept for this - the adventures of an angsty sexbot in a post-human solar system - sounds almost like one of those risible kindle freebie erotic...moreThe concept for this - the adventures of an angsty sexbot in a post-human solar system - sounds almost like one of those risible kindle freebie erotic romances, (cover doing all it can to help out.) The execution is somewhat better, and I was ultimately impressed by the willingness to follow a thread through from humor and titillation through to questions about free will and slavery. It didn't quite get me there, intellectually or emotionally, but it is an interesting attempt. Just too much of a tonal shift demanded at the end, but A for effort.
There's also a decent bang-for-buck in terms of space structure and society stuff, if that happens to be what rocks your boat (a moving railway city on Mercury is the thing now, I take it?) but the plot gets tangled and incomprehensible pretty fast, with a variety of totally indistinguishable factions and unpleasant but nevertheless very thinly portrayed minor characters. On the other hand, it is pretty funny at times. Especially if you happen to like bad puns. Which I do, way too much. Well, we've all got our kinks. (less)
I rather admire this as an exercise but i'm not quite sure what the point of the exercise was, as such. The book doesn't quite stick to it's conceits...moreI rather admire this as an exercise but i'm not quite sure what the point of the exercise was, as such. The book doesn't quite stick to it's conceits firmly enough to be a creation of pure style. It's gimmick is telling a handful of tightly focused murder mysteries (pleasingly clever ones, for me anyway) that are seemingly only small parts of a much larger galactic-rebellion, search for FTL, etc Space Opera type story.
The mysteries are basically incidental - the effect achieved only by looking at the 'history' through a tube. This is the neatest thing about the book, and I feel a bit let down that it rather sprawls towards the end, actually telling the space opera rather than just implying it. Then again, perhaps the odd sort of ghost-vision effect, of staring at something random until it starts to get a shape, wouldn't have been so strong. So I disagree that the ending was too abrupt - to the contrary: it wasn't abrupt enough. But what we were supposed to see in this juxtaposition of the two still remains, well, a mystery. (less)
I may be overdosing on this particular susgenre, since I read Blue Remembered Earth recently, and The Quiet War not long before that. They essentially...more I may be overdosing on this particular susgenre, since I read Blue Remembered Earth recently, and The Quiet War not long before that. They essentially tell the same story, but whats disturbing is that they essentially come to the same conclusion. All of this seems to come down to the Richard Florida version of the future. The 24th century for hipsters.
They're liberal-geek amusement parks. A guided tour of one half of the western culture war. The roller coaster of exciting new urbanism. The merry go round of climate change. Ferris wheel of non heteronormativity. That cute little train that goes around the park* of multiculturalism.
It's all very adorable and convenient, if you like that sort of thing, and I do like that sort of thing. I am so the target audience of these books it's not even funny. I read them, I enjoy them, i'll read more of them. I can read fanciful descriptions of space habitats, anarchist economic systems and new-fangled family arrangements until the cows come home. And I like amusement parks too. But after a while, i'd like to see the rest of whats out there too.
Basically, this now entirely failing to be in any way interesting or awe inspiring or thought provoking. It's just a kind of geek trivia porn. I read this stuff the way I read history articles on Cracked.com. I don't find it at all convincing, which, fair enough - SF is about the present, not about the future, ok. But it doesn't work for the present either. Its too neat and colorful in a tourist brochure sort of way. These futures don't feel in the slightest foreign or disorienting or futuristic. Lots of sex without gender. Lots of colonization without colonialism. Superficial multiracialism while actual religeon, culture and ideology become cheerfully contained esoterica, human variety for the sake of decoration. This isn't the future, its just the internet. Would someone please write something challenging?
*But only if it's got rails. If it's actually a tractor pulling wagons on car wheels, it can go fuck itself. (less)
Big and cool but it never really coalesced as science fiction. Theres tons of stuff in here that would have made a decent novel all by itself - usuall...moreBig and cool but it never really coalesced as science fiction. Theres tons of stuff in here that would have made a decent novel all by itself - usually thats a good thing, but in this instance its all just brushed up against too lightly and then we move on to the next thing so that nothing really feels significant. The rise of a united Africa as a dominant political power, the notion of the authoritarian utopia of the Surveillance World vs. the anarchic DZ, the Evolvarium, the Panspermian Ideology, the animal rearing in space ethics, etc, etc...It makes the solar system of the mid-22nd century seem diverse and complex, but story-wise, kind of unfocused. (less)
Enjoyed this one as much as the first one. Often, even more than in the Quiet War, it's more of a fictional narrative history of human settlement of t...moreEnjoyed this one as much as the first one. Often, even more than in the Quiet War, it's more of a fictional narrative history of human settlement of the solar system with the occasional dramatization, rather than a novel with the occasional sweeping overview bit. It's even a shame, since theres a still some great characters and even potentially affecting arcs about, but almost everything - including tense conversations and battles - gets told rather than shown, so that rather undercuts it. When some actual dramatic plot development does happen, it's almost hard to notice.
On the other hand - I really didn't mind. It's odd, since usually I read for character and theme and that sort of thing, but in this instance I was a perfectly happy camper reading infodumps about the chemical composition of the atmosphere of Titan or the architecture of space habitats. I think it's because I secretly still want to grow up to live in a space habitat. (less)
Really, really enjoyed this book, though i'm not sure if it's really because it's outstandingly good (it's definitely plenty good though) or because i...moreReally, really enjoyed this book, though i'm not sure if it's really because it's outstandingly good (it's definitely plenty good though) or because it hits all my favorite space opera buttons - lots of extra terrestrial geography, fleets of spaceships, varied quasi posthuman space colonization, etc. All of it is well written and well plotted, and I liked the characters too (look, lots of women and none of them are whores!) though sometimes it seemed as though their motivations and arcs were spelled out in the narration more than being shown by their actions. A few subplots seem more like setup for the next book too. Which i'm going to go read now, so that may be a minor quibble. (less)
I'd shelf this as inherent-sadness-of-being-a-Kuiper-belt-object, but that might be too esoteric even for me.
Much more skullduggery and international...moreI'd shelf this as inherent-sadness-of-being-a-Kuiper-belt-object, but that might be too esoteric even for me.
Much more skullduggery and international astronomical intrigue than expected for a book about rocks 12 billion miles away too. One can't help but feel bad for Pluto, of course, but it was probably the right call. (less)