Scruffy's Reviews > The Quiet War

The Quiet War by Paul McAuley
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's review
Feb 13, 2012

it was amazing
Read from January 30 to February 04, 2012

The Quiet War follows the growing cold war between two branches of humanity. Greater Brazil is one of three families which has risen to power after investing in repairing the damage inflicted on the earth by climate change and economic crisis. Now the lives of those living on Earth are strictly controlled and monitored. The Outers on the other hand abandoned Earth in favour of colonising the moon’s of Jupiter and Saturn where they have the freedom to live a more utopian life. Here scientists experiment with genetic engineering pushing human evolution in many different directions. As the differences between these two factions grow tensions rise and war becomes increasingly likely.

With a story that has the word war in the title you would expect the novel to be a little action heavy. That would be the way that most science fiction novels would go. But that isn’t what The Quiet War is about. It’s more focused on the slow build to war and has more in common with a spy story or a political thriller than most science fiction.

There is a large cast of characters but no one you could say is the main character. The view point is constantly shifting so we get a very complete view of the world and it’s society, religion and politics. The shifting view points could be confusing but McAuley guides us from character to character very well while always keeping the plot moving forward. His characterisations are strong enough that we don’t need to spend a lot of time with all the characters in order to get a good handle on them.

There is a strong focus on the biology of this world. The mechanics of how human settlements on distant moons would actually work is well thought out. With things like the soil used in hydroponic gardens and enclosed ecosystems described in detail.

The only real downside to the novel is that it seems to end quite abruptly just as the really big ideas are being introduced. But it sets up the sequel very well and does a good job of establishing a world which could spawn many more novels.

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