I feel like this book has to be reviewed 3 different ways.
For the first way, you've got roughly the first half of the book. For this bit, the book is...moreI feel like this book has to be reviewed 3 different ways.
For the first way, you've got roughly the first half of the book. For this bit, the book is historical fiction, and takes the form of a series of musings on life, death, and immortality. What classifies as "natural" when dealing with keeping someone alive, how that translates into Cryonics. There's also a lot of well researched bits about the legal implications of cryonics, and the rights of a legally dead person in cryonic suspension. This bit is good, and I think I would likely rate this book about 4 stars if I had stopped there.
But I'm also reviewing this book another way, as Science Fiction. And the moment the book hits the future, it gets it wrong. Not only in the sense that the time frame of "the future" has already happened to a large extent. That's excusable for near-future sci-fi. The problem is more that his main character is dead and suspended, and the author forgets that he has a plot. It takes 100 pages of muddled ramblings to get to a point where we can bring the main character back, and for that time it becomes strictly futurism. Bad futurism, at that, rooted in a fundamental idea about humans that makes me wonder if he's ever met one.
Which brings me to the third bit of this review. Particularly in the second half this book gets as preachy as any Fundamentalist. Except that instead of JESUS! he screams LOGIC! with this absolute faith that science can and will answer all questions in the universe, and that any question that science cannot answer is mere mysticism. It relentlessly pushes an agenda of science as the only possible savior or source of meaning for mankind. A view that is, curiously enough, not shared by the huge majority of scientifically trained people I know.
By the end of it, what stuck with me was the preachiness and one other scene. A scene where our logical, rational author goes into a side character's POV for a single scene. We are there just long enough for him to show us that not only is she a lawyer, and therefore evil, but she's even more evil because she has an active libido!
Because, kids, science tells us that women who are evil must also be whores.
There's a lot to like about this book. Especially if you're like me, and a sucker for noir integrated into other things and interesting settings.
On th...moreThere's a lot to like about this book. Especially if you're like me, and a sucker for noir integrated into other things and interesting settings.
On those two counts, this book does really well. The setting makes fabulous use of a massive space travel delay, and begins with the assumption that while future haves may have way shinier things, the have-nots may continue not-having in much the same way that they always have.
The characters are good fun, too. A bit familiar, if you've read anything else noir (An aging, ugly bruiser who doesn't know how to do anything but violence? Where have I heard that before?), but they're well done.
The only place I really felt let down was the ending. The pace of the book moves along nicely, but I can't decide whether the ending is an attempt to subvert genre expectations or just lazy. (view spoiler)[The author was either like "Hah! An unexpected twist at the end is exactly what you were expecting! But actually the killing was ordered by the guy we've been telling you it was the whole book!" (hide spoiler)] Whatever his intentions, it's annoying.
Otherwise, though, fun read. Good stuff.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I have something of a soft spot for out-of-date futurology, and this book scratches that itch nicely.
If you ignore the dates, its not terribly bad at...moreI have something of a soft spot for out-of-date futurology, and this book scratches that itch nicely.
If you ignore the dates, its not terribly bad at prediction. A lot of things that he thought were coming in the 80s with interactive television and fax machines didn't happen until the internet, but overall he didn't do a terrible job.
It is also, however, a fabulous example of things that people have been predicting for 60 years that are still being predicted today. There's a number of predictions that make me think "I read that prediction three years ago, too. It still hasn't happen." Which perhaps says less about the lasting prediction abilities of this book and more about the default hopes of people looking towards the future. (less)