Gopakumar's Reviews > Mirrored Heavens

Mirrored Heavens by David J. Williams
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's review
Jul 14, 2008

really liked it
Read in June, 2008

David J. Williams has written a hyper-kinetic bang-up of a novel with blistering action sequences that hits like a flechette.

Set in the early part of a dystopian 22nd century the geopolitical canvas is sketched out in quick brushstrokes in the preface of the book, and in more detail on the author's website before quickly jumping to the action of zone tripping "razors" and hi-ex tossing combat "mechs". The U.S. is pretty much a military dictatorship at this point; officially, President Harrison gets re-elected every six years, but by 2110, he's already been president for 22 years so, in practice, he's president-for-life (The Throne: Intel slang for the U.S. president).

The narrative is a weave of intertwining stories of three primary and two secondary protagonists. Chapter breaks are forgone and instead character icons differentiate sections of the book.

Claire Haskell, a razor, and Jason Marlowe, a mech drop into a burnt out Amazonian basin city to quell a local uprising. Strom Carson, the mysterious Operative is on his way to the moon to silence an irregularity on his own side. Their handlers convey orders via a drug induced trance. The plots of Lyle Spencer, an info trading European Combine's lackey, and Linehan, man-on-the-run are secondary to these top three but nonetheless compete with them in terms of action. Things heat up when a clandestine terrorist group called Autumn Rain, in a bid to capture power, starts to wind up the gears for a huge global war in spectacular fashion by blowing up the Space Elevator, the joint construction of the superpowers and the living symbol of the détente that they've embarked upon. What follows is a race on earth, space and the moon to stop them but nothing is what it seems and our "heroes" find themselves to be pawns in a much bigger game (there's a big twisty ending). Mirrored Heavens abounds in all the ah-so glee inducing tropes of the genre: huge and sometimes crumbling megalopolises, the ecosystem shot to pieces, plugging into the "zone", power suits with weapon racks, behind the scenes internecine political maneuvering, super sentient A.I.'s, info cartels, slipping into new skins et cetera et cetera.

Williams's prose has a telegraphic style which may turn some people off but is well suited to the furious pace. A minor niggle is that the dense non-stop action leaves little time for in-depth characterization. Cyberpunk fans and fans of Shirow's Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed will gobble this up.

Highly recommended.

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