While the initial book in the series Empire V also suffered from excessive narration, at least it had the allure of introducing us to a new world. TheWhile the initial book in the series Empire V also suffered from excessive narration, at least it had the allure of introducing us to a new world. The sequel also introduces a few new ideas, but in doing so it clearly departs from the science fiction genre by delving deeply into mysticism and occult, while reaching a new high in the narration-to-action ratio. A disappointment. ...more
The novel has many facets. One can consider it science fiction: parasites (or rather, symbiants) supplementing humans to form a new species; urban fanThe novel has many facets. One can consider it science fiction: parasites (or rather, symbiants) supplementing humans to form a new species; urban fantasy is also a label that fits – vampires walking among us. And given the copious amount of philosophical ramblings, "philosophical fiction" seems like a good match. But neither the fresh, original ideas, nor Pelevin's unique in-your-face writing style can make up for the patches of unmitigated, excruciatingly boring narration. One of the author's weaker works.
....In the 21st century, "industrial exemption" means that you don't care what does the captain of the galley where you're chained to an ore think about your jacket. Everything else is work clothes, even if you're wearing a Rolex. In fact, particularly if you're wearing a Rolex. ...more
This is a review for the entire "Lost Fleet" (1-6) series:
Military SF at its best. So much space combat action has been published in the last 20 yearsThis is a review for the entire "Lost Fleet" (1-6) series:
Military SF at its best. So much space combat action has been published in the last 20 years that readers are probably getting fed-up with human fleets emerging victorious over some physically or ideologically repulsive threat against overwhelming odds. The valiance of human sailors, the resilience of human technology, the ingenuity of human science, and just plain superiority of homo sapiens over all other species in the Universe were enjoyable the first few times, but got old really quickly.
Jack Campbell takes a different approach. While the actual enemy is sufficiently powerful to present a credible threat, Captain Geary's main challenge are the incompetence, insubordination, and just plain stupidity (often bordering on insanity) of a good portion of his command staff. And that's before even facing the political side of the equation. After dealing with all those... factors, victory in battle comes almost as an afterthought. Protagonist's personal life is also refreshingly unconventional, and even though I wish some of the bedroom (or is that "ready room") scenes were better written (or better yet, never written), the overall effect is favorable, and Jack Geary deserves an honorable place on every space combat buff's bookshelf, right next to Honor Harrington, Ivan Antonov, and Raymond Prescott. ...more
Москау in many ways echoes an earlier work: Philip K. Dick's iconic "The Man in the High Castle". There are multiple nods in Dick's direction, includiМоскау in many ways echoes an earlier work: Philip K. Dick's iconic "The Man in the High Castle". There are multiple nods in Dick's direction, including some not very friendly ones: the American author confines Slavs to "...their heartland in Asia... to everyone’s relief. Back to riding yaks and hunting with bow and arrow." Zotoв, while equally harsh to the unfortunate North Americans outside of "dictator McCain's California Republic", who in his words "...subsist by hunting possums and feral cats", at least leaves them the dignity of performing that unenviable activity with Sturmgewehr 44, which is apparently as ubiquitous in Mockay's world as its derivative AK-47 is in ours.
However, Zotoв's work definitely stands on its own despite the historical similarities of the plot. More over, while in Philip K. Dick's novel the worldwide atrocities committed by the Nazi victors are no less calamitous, there is certain academic detachment the writer, and by extension, the readers feel from the action. Not so with the Russian author, whose native land is still scarred by the tracks of the "Panthers" and "Tigers", and bears scorch marks from the flamethrowers of Waffen-SS. When every 8th person in your nation dies in a war, that is bound to feel personal. It certainly does for Zotoв, and he makes no attempt to hide it. In fact, the idea that the world of Москау is somehow wrong is the leitmotif of the book, felt by the characters on almost every page to a point where the whole work starts smelling of mysticism and black magic. However, the author manages to tie everything together in a scientifically sound, convincing, and logical science fiction story.
Although the novel made a huge impression on me, I can't close my eyes to a number of mistakes and imprecisions that distract from the plot and reduce the credibility of the author in the eyes of a typical educated reader (and uneducated readers of alternative history are unlikely). For example, how can we accept anything said about the United States by a person who refers to "...the ungoverned lands of the Far West: the former states of Alabama, Utah, and Kansas"
As memory of WW2 fades, all kinds of groups chip away at the historical records: Holocaust deniers proclaim the death camps to be "props", constructed by the Allies post-factum; die-hard Stalinists deny the decisive effect of the lend-lease arrangement; movements of self-proclaimed "patriots" within every "allied" nation, astonishingly including France and China harbor illusions of how they could have won the war all on their own, etc. However, the major revisionist trend, one that billions of dollars (and other currencies, including rubles) are being pumped into is marginalizing (and I suspect, eventually reversing) the role of the Soviet Union in the war. None of the shards of the shattered Communist empire seem to be interested in setting the record straight, with maybe the weak and weary exception of the Russian Federation. However, that state lacks both the means and the will to reverse the trend that will have their children in 2050 (if any are born by that time) bow their heads in shame at the despicable crimes of that nation under one Joseph Stalin (aka Adolf Hitler), who killed billions and billions of his own people until a United Nations peacekeeping force nuked his bunker in Hiroshima, Japan – a city which his troops were illegally occupying after having raped, slaughtered, and eaten (not always in that order) the local population. Hopefully, the effort of Russia's writers can make up for the state's deficiency in PR skills and funding. We (the human race) are lucky to have authors like Philip K. Dick and Zotoв (Georgi Zotov, Russian: Георгий Зотов) put their talents to the task of helping us all learn from history, rather than endlessly repeat it....more