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Void Star

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,990 ratings  ·  344 reviews
A riveting, beautifully written, fugue-like novel of AIs, memory, violence, and mortality

Not far in the future the seas have risen and the central latitudes are emptying, but it’s still a good time to be rich in San Francisco, where weapons drones patrol the skies to keep out the multitudinous poor. Irina isn’t rich, not quite, but she does have an artificial memory that g
Hardcover, 385 pages
Published April 11th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Woland Cory Doctorow also writes very up-to-date, cyberpunk-ish, intellectual novels. Try 'Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom'.

If you like more of the action …more
Cory Doctorow also writes very up-to-date, cyberpunk-ish, intellectual novels. Try 'Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom'.

If you like more of the action and gritty dystopian style, you will love 'Altered Carbon' by Richard K. Morgan. (Netflix adaptation coming soon!)

A fantastic newcomer in the cyberpunk genre is Malka Older. 'Infomocracy' is more of a political thriller, but also thought provoking and fast paced.

'Oryx and Crake' by Margaret Atwood and 'The Windup Girl' by Paolo Bacigalupi are also worth a mention. Dark novels in which climate change and GMO's play a large role.

I sure hope the Gibson writes some more in the style of his 'Blue Ant' Trilogy, contemporary novels but written like it's cyberpunk, as though the future is happening now... (less)

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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  1,990 ratings  ·  344 reviews

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Kevin Kelsey
Posted at Heradas Review

I’m notoriously picky, and it’s hard to find something that checks every one of my boxes: worldbuilding, prose, characters, and story. Usually I’ll find something that hits 2 or 3 of them; a great story, written well, but with weak worldbuilding or characters. Or a top notch world, with vivid characters, but only serviceably written. Void Star nails them all. It’s true literary Speculative Fiction, and a rare find.

It not only has that famous sense of wonder that only SF
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
4.5 stars! Recommended if you like SF novels that make you think. Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

Void Star (2017) is a brilliant, dense and challenging hard science fiction novel with a literary bent, rich in descriptions and imagery. It’s set in a relatively near future, perhaps a hundred years or so in our future. The chapters alternate between the viewpoints of three characters from vastly different social strata:

• Irina has a vanishingly rare type of cranial implant that e
Apr 07, 2017 rated it liked it
A book about technology, artificial intelligence, immortality, memory, the nature of existence itself... and confusion. That last one tends to dominate, for better or worse. I've seen reviews that love the book's florid descriptions and the depth of insight, and others that find it all impenetrably detached, slow-going, overly confusing. I land somewhere in between: Void Star is all of that and more, flawed and brilliant, ponderous and fascinating in turns. The technology shines brighter than th ...more
Oct 03, 2017 rated it liked it
This book was very intricate, it’s plot was way too complicated and it feels like the author tried to do something way too big , it worked up to half the book but after that it just fell apart . The intent of the author was good but the science was not easily explained and the ending was not clear at all. Kudos for trying but the ending went over my head.
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Cyberpunk thriller with extensive world building in which a: Plutarch, rogue AI and cyborg hacker vie against each other to achieve their separate goals.

Wanted to Did-Not-Finish (DNF) this, but like with the fascination of watching a train wreck I held on. The story had good bones as a cyberpunk thriller. It fell apart with the author’s implementation. It was made more complicated than it had to be. The death of it was: the use of a sesquipedalian vocabulary, gross errors in detail while tr
Adam Morgan
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite SF novels of the year thus far. Not for everyone, but if you like thoughtful, philosophical, forward-thinking fiction that grapples with technology, this is a gorgeous book. Mason writes with the cold clarity of an AI.
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Neuromancer updated to the 21st century. Our Case-analog is a sort of AI therapist, or translator, or envoy of humanity. She comes equipped with a risky and extremely rare neural implant that includes wireless Net access and extensive hacking capabilities, as well as a nearly bottomless perfect-fidelity memory store filled with every moment experienced since the moment of installation. The characters are diverse, and the AIs suitably inscrutable and disinterested in the physical realm. The prose ...more
Jun 08, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have often wished that Neal Stephenson or William Gibson would write more novels (or possibly collaborate on one?), and I get the impression that Zachary Mason felt the same way and decided to take matters into his own hands. High five.
Rich Brown
May 20, 2017 rated it did not like it
The page, one in number, contained, so many commas, the reader found it utterly, and, to say more, forever, to be, frankly, unreadable.

(Third sentence. 14 commas. Astounding.)
Mar 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
After the brilliance of Mason's "Lost Books of the Odyssey", I was eagerly awaiting his next book. Although different in both format (a traditional novel, not a collection of vignettes) and setting (the near future, versus the heroic past), "Void Star" doesn't disappoint. (The title is a sly reference to a common trick in C/C++ programming, allowing the programmer to undermine the safety features of the language in order to build a solution more quickly.)

Like the Achilles of the Lost Books, the
Apr 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is an exceptional achievement. It's beautifully written, visually captivating, emotionally intelligent, and above all it makes you think about common futurist topics in new and insightful ways. Best book on it's subject since Accelerando. Arguably better even. To say it is challenging is not a critique so much as an accolade. In fact I didn't find it particularly challenging, it was just intellectually stimulating in the best way.

I don't understand those who rate a book lowly because i
Leo Walsh
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
VOID STAR by Zachary Mason is an interesting, tightly-plotted cyberpunk novel. Part of me thinks, "Hey... this is William Gibson, but with without characters who are heavy drug users." yet the tale maintains many Gibson-like qualities, like Mason's focus, is on AI and cyber technology and how it can, and will, impact culture.

But Mason draws on other sources as well. Indeed, there are parts that read like an updated holy knight or Buddhist warrior-monk story. This is a world where people fight a
Mar 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book blew my mind. Simply put, Mason is brilliant. Through the crisp, poetic clarity of his prose, prepare to be swept around the world and back on a dazzling flight that will leave you breathless. Void Star will drop you in a near-future world unsettlingly similar to our own. In fact, at times it reads a little like a dire and all-too-likely prediction of what lies ahead. Though other writers have played with the perfect memory trope, here it's deftly handled and well-integrated. This isn' ...more
Nicki Markus
Void Star is a tough book for me to review. I didn't dislike it per se; it simply never grabbed me. I failed to connect with any of the characters, and though I read to the end, I never reached a point where I cared about their dilemmas or what would happen to them. Neither the character nor the plot inspired me to the point where the story truly gripped me. Although the premise appealed to me when reading the blurb, perhaps this just wasn't the right book for me. Maybe other, more hardcore, sci ...more
Bon Tom
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
Damn. I usually like complex books, but ccomplexity here seemed a bit self servient. Without trace of irony, I know there's value somewhere inside and I'm sorry because I couldn't extract it. But the basic premise and occasional glimpses of insight and clarity are so promising that I think I'll have to give it another go, after I find some good guide written by some noble Goodreader, or at least synopsis. To all who intend to read it: this is the one you don't read at your usual speed. Don't you ...more
Scott Waldie
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was so distracted by the grandiloquent prose in this one that I almost didn't notice there was a story here, or any characters living it. Too poetic, if that's possible. Author is talented with his words, no doubt, but dialing back every sensation, every stream of thought about every motion and process occurring in the setting and to the characters would have served the novel better for me. At times it felt like watching Ghost in the Shell or some similar near-future, tech-philosophy film in S ...more
Edward  Goetz
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I feel bad writing cryptic reviews, but this was a great read. The future and the possibilities the author brings to the fore make this a very good dystopian read.
May 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Void Star by Zachary Mason, is a cyberpunk-style science fiction novel that takes place in the near distant future. The book follows a couple of characters: Irina, a women with special implants that allows her to examine complex AI. Kern, a boxer from the massive slums of San Francisco, who bites off more than he knows when he steals a prototype cellphone. Thales, son of a Brazilian politician, who is slumming in his expensive car around the city. These characters become embroiled in a mysteriou ...more
The Bibliofool
Feb 18, 2017 rated it it was ok
I'd give this just under three stars if I could. I found this incredibly dense, sprawling, and challenging. Mason is obviously an extremely gifted writer, capable of towering world building and mind-bending technical prowess, but this book was overly long for me and I could sense early on that the payoff wasn't going to pay off the way I wanted it to. Certainly an achievement and dystopian sci-fi heads will probably love it, but I just didn't connect to the characters or the exhausting interweav ...more
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book falls into a shortlist of my favorite sci-fi books published in the last 10 years.

Mason is a genius. No, seriously, he's a genius. Don't take my word for it... just read the Wired piece from April 2017.

"Mason has always been fascinated by how the "brains" of computers work. “When I was seven, I remember lying in bed and thinking about how great it would be to teach a computer to talk,” he says. When he attended college at 14 (yes, 14, at Harvey Mudd College), he resolved to answer thes
Jon Nelson
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This will be an odd review, because I'm going to spend most of it talking about a different author.

Reading Void Star was a really interesting experience. It's a pitch-perfect Gibsonian cyberpunk novel in the style of the Sprawl trilogy, only it just came out and was written by a guy named Zachary Mason. It's obviously very directly inspired by Neuromancer and can't hope to achieve the same cultural import in its wake. But it's... kind of a better book in a lot of ways.

The thing about William Gib
Apr 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Forgive me, but I can't pick up this book without hearing David Bowie's "Black Star" and needing to sing a couple of bars of it before reading: "I'm a Void Star, I'm a Void Star; I'm not a monst[aa]r, ahhhhh ohhhhh aaaaaa." Singing the song several several times over led me to the totally unstoned conclusion that these works of art categorically belong together. One category under which they fall (for me) is Perplexing Things. Others are Sci-Fi, “Genre Fiction,” Discursive Fiction, Detailed Fodd ...more
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
I was not enjoying this book at all and I made it to about the 15% point before giving up. Maybe you need to be a gamer to know (or care) what's going on here, but for me this was just not a pleasant experience. I also confess that I am not a fan of first person present tense narratives. I received a free copy of the ebook from the publisher, but I wound up listening to the audiobook borrowed from the library. ...more
Charles Perry
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Like watching a movie while doing mushrooms...everything is vivid and runs into each other and is amazing. Great writing! Kudos.
Aaron Arnold
Mason's previous book The Lost Books of the Odyssey was spectacular, so I'm unhappy that this sci-fi novel didn't live up to it for me, especially because as a computer scientist this should have been home turf for him. On a prose level, this is great; there are no iconic, standout lines like Neuromancer's "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel", but just about every sentence is beautifully written, well-balanced and full of interesting imagery. There really ...more
May 25, 2017 rated it did not like it
If I paid someone $12.99 to masturbate, I'd think 387 cum pages were a bargain. But since I intended to buy a novel, I feel like I've been ripped off. "Void Star" is the kind of pretentious twaddle that tries to intimidate readers into thinking its garbled story and hollow grandiloquence constitutes art, kind of like your stoner friend in high school who overstuffs his poetry with classical allusions to mask the fact that he's writing about absolutely nothing. Shadows become penumbras early in " ...more
May 12, 2017 rated it liked it
I gave this book a three, but equally it could have been two or four stars. Well written, and some interesting ideas about AI , but there was barely a story there, and the characters were shallow.

The POV skips between reality and a kind of AI simulation, and it is hard at times to work out which one you are reading about, resulting in confusion, and a certain amount of irritation. Perhaps that was the point and I'm missing it
Brian Hughes
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent story, well executed

Void Star posits a future based on our present where divisions between wealth and poverty are extreme but humanity's core attributes, encoded in memory, emerge to smooth the glide slope to better future. The entanglements between hardware, software and wetware are blended into a well told tale.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A friend gave this to me, which doesn't happen as often as you might think. I didn't know anything about the book, or the author, but I trust my friend and so I began it early this year. The prose often read like poetry, dense and infused with symbolism and meaning and all that stuff that you rarely see in a genre like sci-fi. Because of that, I could not speed-read this book as I can for so many others, especially thrillers, fantasies, and (unfortunately) a lot of literary fiction.

And that's r
Yzabel Ginsberg
[I received a copy of this book through NetGalley.]

This story takes us on the paths followed by three characters very different from each other: Irina, carrying a brain implant that gives her perfect memory and access to AIs; Kern, a young refugee from the San Francisco favelas, who taught himself through books and martial arts thanks to a laptop found in a dump; and Thales, son of a murdered Brazilian politician, whose life hangs by a thread only because his body may reject the implant that sav
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