Review: Infoquake by David Louis Edelman (Solaris)

Title: Infoquake
Author: David Louis Edelman
Publisher: Solaris
Published: 7 July 2008
Review Copy

What could high-tech business look like in the future? If Infoquake is anything to go by quite cutthroat. Dominated by bio/logics, a way of programming the body, the world that David Louis Edelman has created is packed full of technology and commentary on consumer society.

I must admit I was wary of Infoquake whilst reading the opening chapters. Who wants to read a book based on making a better way of seeing in the dark? But Edelman knocks it up a gear when we get to explore the past of Natch, a master of bio/logics and person loathed across the Data Sea.

And that is where I was hooked. Edelman creates a team of characters that you want to succeed. Not that Natch is the most likeable character but somehow I wanted him to climb up the business ladder because of Jara, Horvil and Merri.

The technology is fantastic as well as believable, at least in context.  You can project yourself anywhere whilst your physical body stays put.  Millions of people can gather in the same place at the same time.  And most impressive of all you can control your body by programming it.

Infoquake shows how a good sci-fi story can, and should, be. It shows the effect of technology on humanity and focuses on the humanity rather than the technology.

It’s not perfect. Natch isn’t an easy character to sympathise with on occasion but I think that makes him more interesting as you get to see his evolution. Some of the choices of scenes aren’t what I would have chosen. Especially the lack of tension at the end.There aren’t any aliens, any guns, explosions, space ships; just business and technology that’s going to affect millions.

And that makes it very refreshing. The drama is within the characters themselves. I’m looking forward to seeing how Eldelman expands his ideas in the next book of the Jump 225 Trilogy.

Review: Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson

The Stone GodsTitle: The Stone Gods
Author: Jeanette Winterson
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Published: 27 September 2007
Price: £16.99
Review Copy

The Stone Gods is described as an ‘intergalactic love story’ set as man is due to colonise a new blue planet just like ours before we started using more than we put back.

Winterson starts well enough with the tale of Billie who hasn’t been ‘Fixed’, who is getting parking parking tickets even though she has a permit and has been asked to interview the robo sapien, Spike.

And as it progresses this storyline isn’t so bad and is an interesting take on how we might progress. Everything artificial, nothing to do but look young and have sex and be consumers. The problem comes when Winterson leaves this tale and all the fables she weaves into it and moves into parallels.

The other stories lack the initial engagement of the character of Billie and her relationship with Spike even though they are mentioned.  And at this point I have a confession to make. I skipped and skim read looking for any threads to cling back on to.

This is the danger when you change the nature of the story. You loose your reader and what tentative links they’ve made. And Winterson lost me.

I’d recommend reading it for the opening novella but without the expectation of understanding or enjoying what follows.  If Winterson had played it straight it would have been tighter and stronger and left room to explore sexuality as well as human evolution but I guess each writer tells the tales they want to tell.

Debut [not a] Review: The Electric Church by Jeff Somers

The Electric ChurchTitle: The Electric Church
Author: Jeff Somers
Publisher: Orbit
Published: 20 September 2007
Price: £9.99
Review Copy

Normally I put down books that I don’t enjoy, stick it on the little list on the sidebar and move on. But there has been a lot of hype for The Electric Church so I can’t really just let it drift off.

It all comes down to a question of style (examples of Somers writing can be found here and here) and a matter of taste (mine and not Somers). And Somers prose style is not to my taste. I found it a little cold and more tell and little show.

But it’s probably just me because as mentioned in a previous post it has already got some good reviews.

I’m afraid I didn’t get past the first 30 pages so I there is not a lot more I can say but it’s not for me 🙁

Review: The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton

The Dreaming VoidTitle: The Dreaming Void
Author: Peter F. Hamilton
Publisher: Macmillan
Published: 3 August 2007
Price: £17.99
Review Copy

I don’t know where to start. Really. Peter F. Hamilton has a packed a universe into a 600 pages and I’m surprised that the books aren’t spontaneously exploding on the shelves.

There is a Void in space that is more deadly than a black hole. There are humans who think that the Void is a Nirvana due to the dreams of Inigo who has shown billions the life inside the Void.

The Dreaming Void centres on those supporting a Pilgrimage to the Void and those who don’t. Hamilton grounds the story through a pair of characters, one each side of the Void, whilst agents of the factions search for the missing Inigo and the mysterious Second Dreamer.

What amazes me is how Hamilton keeps all the characters in play, just when you’re getting used to one and falling into their rhythm he swaps to someone else. This makes for a challenging read but as you progress you can see all the pieces being moved into place. And the story ends with the board set for whatever comes next and a revelation that asks more questions than it answers.

Throughout the story it also makes references to and brings back characters from an earlier two-part story which happened a thousand years ago and is retold in Pandora’s Star and Judas Unchained. As I’ve not yet read them I didn’t feel there was any obvious gaps though I have the feeling that I’ll have a few revelations once I have.

The Dreaming Void is set in an amazing imaging of the future of the human race. It’s complex and challenging but has huge moments of satisfaction throughout. If you like your science fiction to explore what it is to be human with all our potential and our weaknesses and enjoys seeing new worlds and technology you’ll love Part One of The Void Trilogy. If you like your narratives to follow a more linear path this maybe a little too in-depth to be satisfactory.

I personally am now integrated into the worlds of the Commonwealth and can’t wait to see what happens next.