If I had to describe Richard K. Morgan's writing in one word, it would be "gleeful."
He doesn't write in one genre, he writes in two or three. And MorgIf I had to describe Richard K. Morgan's writing in one word, it would be "gleeful."
He doesn't write in one genre, he writes in two or three. And Morgan dumps those genres on you by the truck load. He doesn't write sci-fi, he writes FREAKING SCI-FI. With NOIR. And CYBERPUNK. And HARD-BOILED CRIME. If you're into that sort of in your face reading experience then this is great.
I tried out this book after starting Morgan's fantasy series, A Land Fit for Heroes. It's the same basic principles at work. Everything is dialed up to 11. The organizing concept- uploadable consciousness, functional immortality for those who can afford it- is not new, but Morgan infuses it with grime that would make George R.R. Martin flinch. Even the term for bodies people inhabit, "sleeves," seems vaguely dirty.
The story comes down to noir dressed up in blaring sci-fi clothing: former law enforcement/soldier type turned freelancer is dragooned into crime solving. There are femme fatales, crooked cops, terrible people from his past and so forth. The protagonist is tattooed with ANTI-HERO from the very first sentence of the book. Abandon all hope, ye who like morals to your stories. The only noble gestures Kovacs makes will leave you uneasy at best, and the antagonists' various misdeeds sometimes seem only to be there to out-do Kovacs' own compromises and/or outright malice.
At times the story felt like it was drifting a bit. After reading the second book in the series I chalked this up to starting a new series and occasionally wandering into a corner. Similarly, there are times when the humorously over the top style drifts into lurid sillines, particularly during the sex scenes. However, it doesn't spoil the story and overall I'm sold on the series....more
I still like the series and it's a good read. However it's lost some steam from the first two books.
The action, or more accurately the plot, downshiftI still like the series and it's a good read. However it's lost some steam from the first two books.
The action, or more accurately the plot, downshifts a bit in this one. Whereas before the series was based off of immediate, in-your-face threats from an excession event from two billion years prior, in Abaddon's Gate the macguffin is...just a gate. There are interesting things about it. People fight over it in the usual petty/disturbing/entertaining ways.
But where the first book featured vomit zombies from an ancient supervirus, and the second featured hybrid super soldiers created from the same, this time it's...a gate. It doesn't really do anything besides be a gate. Its inanimate nature is even a point of contention in the book: several people note that it hasn't really done anything malicious or dangerous.
It feels like a midpoint book, and that's fine. It clearly is setting something up for the next few books. There's more of a focus on psychological and spiritual drama than existential threat. But like all plot midpoints it's vulnerable to stalling out and I feel like that happened a bit.
Having said that, it's still an excellent story and I will continue to follow the series....more
Every time I see a review of sci-fi or fantasty that includes gushing over POLITICAL INTRIGUE, I roll my eyes so hard I see my own sinuses.
And yet CorEvery time I see a review of sci-fi or fantasty that includes gushing over POLITICAL INTRIGUE, I roll my eyes so hard I see my own sinuses.
And yet Corey pulled it off in this one. I kind of hate myself for admitting it but it's superbly done and a great addition to his sci-fi arsenal that started one book back.
There's the same business: great space and ground battles, the morality v. amorality conflict, the looming excession event. On top of that Caliban's War features a high-level operative in Earth's government. A foul-mouthed grandmother to be specific.
If you're going to stick politics in sci-fi this is the way to do it. The interactions- petty, self-involved and self-destructive as they are- feel right and even familiar.
Finally, the surviving protagonist from Leviathan Wakes is back and he's slowly losing his mind as he staggers through one atrocity after another. It seems a little delayed considering he started the giant intra-system war to begin with but it's a welcome development. I'm looking forward to seeing what he does with it in subsequent books....more
I read this book after the Way of Kings got me liking Sanderson. This book is weirdly the opposite. Whereas the Way of Kings was terrible on the themaI read this book after the Way of Kings got me liking Sanderson. This book is weirdly the opposite. Whereas the Way of Kings was terrible on the thematic merits but made up for it with brilliant writing, this book is OUTSTANDING on the thematic merits but suffers from some bad writing habits.
The setup is genius. A few books (and graphic novels such as Kingdom Come/Watchmen) have explored the likeliest scenario of what happens when humans get superpowers. This one takes it head on: they all go insane with power and the world ends. To top it off, the protagonist is part of an anti-metahuman terrorist cell.
Unfortunately, Sanderson takes this genius concept and drags it through some pretty lazy writing conventions. Protagonist as plucky, boyish upstart. More experienced and initially hostile love interest. Whiz-bang contraptions. I get the feeling that he was trying to satirize the conventional action script, but most of the time it fell flat. It concludes with an implied explanation for the Epics inevitably being power-drunk monsters that was disappointing.
The strength of the concept and the overall writing carry the story past its flaws. I definitely will follow the series for another book. Hopefully the shortcomings in this one will smooth out with time....more
This is a fun book and I'm going to stick with the series.
It's basically what's on the box. The plot is your standard issue excession/big dumb object.This is a fun book and I'm going to stick with the series.
It's basically what's on the box. The plot is your standard issue excession/big dumb object. Mankind split into three factions, alien event shakes everything up, hijinks ensue.
There are two main characters on opposite ends of the moral/ethics spectrum, one the stuck up Hero and the other a broken alcoholic Nihilist. They clash! They make up! They show us many things about the nature of humanity in a post-human world!
The antagonist-villain is kind of underdeveloped but in the scheme of things it's not that big a deal. The main conflict is over the possibility of morality and the two protagonists have that covered anyway.
There's great space fights. Inertia is a really big deal in them and that's good.
In combination with the first Hyperion book, this is a pretty good space opera with a lot of wasted potential.
There's a lot to like about it. It has aIn combination with the first Hyperion book, this is a pretty good space opera with a lot of wasted potential.
There's a lot to like about it. It has a good narrative structure that breaks things up without getting disjointed. The characters continue their development arcs from the first. There's an epic struggle between man and meta machine with horrifying consequences and heartbreaking dilemmas.
It's just that two thirds of the way through it shifts gears from being a truly epic work of sci if with arresting moral and philosophical implications to a space time opera that is pretty cool but hollow. It's not bad, but it is disappointing.
The series revolves around the struggle for meaningful religion in a post space flight (ie post twentieth century) world. And right up to a certain point it's going someplace truly interesting. There's the possibility held out to reject the premise of faith completely, to essentially give God the finger and along with it the entire concept of mythos. To the religious framework around both humans and AI, the characters come right to the edge of rejecting it. As the scholar, Sol, puts it, to accept only terms of mutual respect and reason with the divine, or reject the divine completely.
It was a marvelous setup, and I could barely put the book down to see where Simmons went with it.
And then he stepped back. It turns out blind faith IS integral to human existence, that insane, horrifying acts based on unexplained dictates are the way to salvation and survival. And then space battles and explosions, et cetera.
Again, it's a good space opera, and it has a lot of good material with fantastic characters. But its conclusion was a disappointment for the wasted potential....more
It's a good read. A friend described it as Sci Fi written by an insane classics major which is pretty accurate. The characters are interesting, the woIt's a good read. A friend described it as Sci Fi written by an insane classics major which is pretty accurate. The characters are interesting, the world building doesn't extend into China Meiville levels of suffocation, and the plot has a fun structure.
It's Canterbury Tales in space. If that sounds fun then this is a book for you. Being the earliest book in the series there's a lot of promise and a lot of intriguing ideas to pursue.
Having said that, this book ends on the most rotten teaser I've ever seen. Writing TUNE IN NEXT TIME would have been more subtle than the last chapter. It's stylistically poor to the point of poor taste....more