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Void Star

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3.68  ·  Rating details ·  1,335 ratings  ·  260 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
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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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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 c
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Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
4.5 stars, and it's on sale as of this week! 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 r
...more
Aaron
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
Carlos
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.
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.
Ryan
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
Jenne
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.
Andrew
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
Simondlevy
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
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Gabriel
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
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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
...more
Bronwen
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
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.
Bon Tom
Nov 19, 2017 rated it liked it
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
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
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Regan
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
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
Charles Perry
Apr 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow...vivid.

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
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
Faith
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.
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.
Dina
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
...more
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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Emmett Mottl
There's many fascinating ideas in this novel, but it sorely lacks a sense of place. The idea of towering cities built by autonomous drones and AIs is lovely, but I had a difficult time putting together the fragments of the world that Zachary Mason created. Much like the characters, I finished the story with little sense of what the world was like, other than a terrible, diluvian badland covered in concrete and badass sword fighting clubs. Don't get me wrong, there's some sicknasty wordplay here ...more
Britta Böhler
Review to come, but needless to say, I was underwhelmed.
Richard Hakes
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Contemporary science fiction is pretty thin these days, cyber punk one of the few variations where anything much happening. The near future world described within is pretty believable and his description of the world and it's workings the better part of the book. The characters and the story remain hazier and you never get achieve any empathy with them. My four stars is generous it is really a three with an extra one for effort.
Oullie
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book slowed me down immensely. In reading other reviews I'm glad to find that I was in good company. Its a book that I already want to re-read. Its a very sophisticated and intelligent book about Artificial Intelligence that doesn't follow familiar tropes.
Zellyn
Apr 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This novel is worth reading for the flooded post-global-warming future world-building alone, and in that way reminded me of Snow Crash. Low-star reviewer complaints about it being confusing had me expecting a Stephenson-like ending, but everything was tied together quite neatly.

My main complaint was that every character seemed to have world-class skills: there didn't seem to be many ordinary characters.

But definitely recommended.
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“...we're certainly not going to let a client's interests suffer because of a narrow-minded adherence to the letter of the law.” 1 likes
“Like sculpture, the favelas, but she reminds herself that, avant-garde rapture notwithstanding, they’re sinks for all the saddest ugliness in the world, that to set foot in them is to step back decades, or even centuries, they’re the last bastion of the old…” 0 likes
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