Accident on an asteroid colony goes from bad to worse. This is a YA hard Science fiction book, but the 'hard' is back-grounded by the plot as things g...moreAccident on an asteroid colony goes from bad to worse. This is a YA hard Science fiction book, but the 'hard' is back-grounded by the plot as things go from bad to worse, avoiding the worst excesses of that genre. The problem is that too many things are going on, we have asteroid survival, nanomachines, political maneuvering, emergent AI, and a boys own adventure all vying for space, and while the individual pieces range from good to excellent, the connective tissue between them involves coincidences and connections that feel contrived and drag the book down. Similarly, characterization is a mixed bag, with Geoff, the initial protagonist feeling like a cliche, while other point of view characters feel deep and well rounded. This was a good book, but with a little more focus, it could have made the jump to excellent.
Recommended for those who want a solid plot in their hard sci fi, or anyone who wants to dip a toe into the genre.(less)
Same series, same review - great opening chapter, slow build, great last 40%, not quite as good as the previous two. Kovacs bums around his home world...moreSame series, same review - great opening chapter, slow build, great last 40%, not quite as good as the previous two. Kovacs bums around his home world and gets inadvertently involved in stuff.
Semi - spoiler
The thing that holds this book back for me is the deus ex machina ending. The twists and turns of the preceding half dozen chapters are great and appear to be building to one thing, then the book abrubtly turns in another direction. It should be noted that the end is not inconsistent, it just felt forced to me. (less)
Less Blade Runner than the first book, more Platoon crossed with Indiana Jones in the future. Fortunately it is just as cynical as the first book, tur...moreLess Blade Runner than the first book, more Platoon crossed with Indiana Jones in the future. Fortunately it is just as cynical as the first book, turning it's attention to war. Kovacs is still as compelling a character as ever, empathetic and sociopathic in turn, and while it takes a little while to get going, the last two thirds are excellent. In addition it thinks through the implications of the core premise of the world - if most body deaths are survivable, what does that mean for soldiers in war? (Hint - it's not great).
Another culture book. Like most of the late books I feel the need to mull and possibly reread it to get everything out of it, but a strangely fitting...moreAnother culture book. Like most of the late books I feel the need to mull and possibly reread it to get everything out of it, but a strangely fitting end for the culture series. Still a welcome look at subliming, and what it means for a society to decide to move on.(less)
Deserts and bounty hunters, war and bugs, Islam and feminist politics, this book reads a little like David Cronenberg's (not lynch!) Dune. To feed the...moreDeserts and bounty hunters, war and bugs, Islam and feminist politics, this book reads a little like David Cronenberg's (not lynch!) Dune. To feed the endless war, there is a universal draft of men, and only those who survive come back. A female bounty hunter who specializes in finding and killing deserters takes a bounty with political ramifications.
This starts off as a book about a hard person who does hard things. Then a female dominated Islamic society is layered over this, with a dirty war of biological atrocities clearly modelled on an Iran-Iraq war that never ended. Beyond that this is just one, deliberately isolated world, and in the stars a greater religious war is fought. Oh, and there are wizards and shape shifters. This is a book that tries to balance intense action with world building and social commentary, and it succeeds to a surprising extent. If there is a weak link, it is the main character, who while she eventually gets fleshed out, never really seems to live up to her terrifying reputation. Her main sidekick has a more interesting arc, as a devout man in a woman's society, and the exploration of the confluence of strict faith enough to fight "God's War" with a society that has become entirely populated by women is the main draw of the book.
It shows some weaknesses as a book; a couple of chapters are from the perspective of a minor character, for no other reason than to maintain the first person perspective on a couple of scenes, and some of the physical/technological underpinnings of the world feel somewhat fragile and not fully fleshed out, however these are somewhat minor complaints.
Recommended for people who like their action with a bit more substance, or their substance with a lot more action.
The weird western has gone through somewhat of a Renaissance recently. If there was an award for most weird in the western, this book would be it. Chr...moreThe weird western has gone through somewhat of a Renaissance recently. If there was an award for most weird in the western, this book would be it. Christian and Mormon Mythos rubs shoulders with Chinese Mysticism and Native American totems, all over a backdrop of Lovecraftian horror, steampunk, and even a touch of Buffy. This sounds like it should be a disaster, and yet it's so propulsive, and so over the top, that it works. It even manages to be introspective in places.
Most of the characters are interesting, and it manages a large cast that almost doesn't have a primary protagonist. It achieves this by building around archetypes, the sheriff and his deputy, the mayor, the saloon keeper and so on. Yet everyone is more then they seem, and almost everyone gets fleshed out and has their moment in the sun. It is not perfect; a subplot involving the grocer and the vet could have been excised, but it works.
Similarly the mixed salad of a setting shouldn't work, but the author has two tricks up their sleeve. The first is that they don't take sides in their world building. Even the underlying Christian mythos is subverted towards the end of the book. The second is that the author uses the Hellmouth trope from Buffy, that is there is something in the town that attracts all the weird, so it's actually an important part of the world building that all of these things are colliding in the same place.
The one major criticism I would have of this book is that there are two moments of villainy that gave me pause*, but ultimately I took them in the over the top spirit that dominates the book. I can however see others balking at these points.
Recomended for someone who likes westerns, urban fantasy in the vein of Neverwhere or Kraken, or someone who just likes to hold on for a ride
* Spoiler and trigger warnings, Not Suitable for Children
*No way to do this gently, tentacle rap and child murder appear, but they are both dealt with in a way that doesn't dwell on them, the first is a part of a terrible possession experience, and the second is a throwaway (literally) to show just how terrible the main villain is.(less)