Monday, 30 April 2007

‘Dark Space’ – Marianne De Pierres

‘Dark Space’ is the first book in the new ‘Sentients of Orion’series by Marianne De Pierres, author of ‘Crash Deluxe’. Thanks to George Walkley, of Orbit Books, for sending me a copy to review.
The discovery of a God-like entity in space is linked to the carefully planned, and ruthlessly executed, invasion of the remote mining planet of Araldis. Baronessa Mira Fedor is caught up in the middle of this. Her future already stolen from her, by the corrupt ruling family, Mira must fight to stay alive and uncover the truth behind both the invasion and the very history of her home planet…
‘The Sentients of Orion’ has potential to become a very good series, De Pierres has obviously gone to a lot of trouble to create a convincing ‘far future’ landscape and has filled it with the ingredients required for an exciting space opera (talking spaceships, weird aliens etc). However ‘Dark Space’ lets the series down (before it has really begun) through weak characterisation and plot tangents that appear to detract from the main storyline. The character of Mira starts at a disadvantage by falling for the standard sci-fi/fantasy cliché of ‘heiress who loses everything’. Thereafter, her only real defining characteristic is to faint at inopportune moments. Don Trinder’s character starts on the road to redemption but throws it all away on an ill-timed decision to safeguard the family line, a decision that renders his character development almost pointless.
Attempts to explore the theme of gender/alien equality are overshadowed by the ongoing ‘invasion plot’ and appear at odds with the direction that the series is set to go in.
‘Dark Space’ is only the first book in an eventual series and there are signs that this series could be very good indeed. However, for me it failed to do what a series opener should really aim for; make the reader want to know what happens next. Maybe I’ll be proved wrong as the series progresses…

Four out of Ten

Friday, 27 April 2007

Who won my review copy of 'Selling Out'?

Why, it was none other than Ali Gibson (otherwise known as Violent_Beauty over on the SFX Forum). The book will be with you before you know it!
Thanks to everyone who entered, I'll be doing another one of these giveaways early next week so keep your eye out...

Sci-Fi TV! Lexx 1.2 – ‘Supernova’

The Lexx has made it into the Dark Zone and the crew is searching for a new home. However, Zev is more concerned with solving the problem of Kai’s diminishing supply of proto-blood and the search for this answer takes the Lexx to Kai’s ancestral planet of Brunnis. Here the crew must contend with a psychotic hologram, a cannibal stowaway (who is aided by His Shadow’s Divine Predecessors) and the threat of a decaying sun that could go supernova at any time…
On one level I really enjoyed this episode; the viewer learns a little bit more about the backgrounds of Kai and Zev while Stanley Tweedle proves that there is the heart of a hero lurking underneath that cowardly exterior. 790’s sarcastic remarks, and hate/hate relationship with Stanley, provide the comic relief but the real star of the show (in this respect) is Tim Curry’s troubled hologram ‘Poetman’. Curry takes full advantage of ‘Lexx’s’ ability not to take itself too seriously and delivers a deliciously over the top performance that is outlandish enough to successfully convey that ‘alien feel’.
However, this particular episode nearly hamstrings itself with its need to push boundaries and promote itself as something truly original. A semi-naked shower scene is a blatant sign that the producers are trying too hard but what is truly unforgivable is the ‘song and dance musical number’ with Kai and Zev, a cringe worthy piece that almost kills the episode stone dead!
The episode is good enough to overcome ‘clunky’ experimentation but does suffer because of it, a lesson that perhaps producers should get their ideas straight before dumping the lot onto film.

Six out of Ten

Thursday, 26 April 2007

‘The Walking Dead (vol. 1) – Days Gone By’ – Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore

I’m a big fan of anything with zombies in it; movies, books, you name it. The bottom line though is that unless you’re trapped, and facing a horde of the things, the zombie is perhaps the least scary of all the monsters. It’s not fast on its feet; it’s easily killed and has no plans other than to eat what it can catch. What makes great zombie fiction then are not so much the zombies themselves but the reactions of ordinary people who have been placed in a quite extraordinary situation (think any of George Romero’s ‘Living Dead’ films for starters; ok maybe not ‘Land of the Dead’…). Robert Kirkman’s ‘Walking Dead’ series (issued monthly but also collected in graphic novel format) does this very well indeed.
Police Officer Frank Grimes wakes from a coma (gunshot induced) to find that the world has irrevocably changed while he was asleep. He is the only human left alive in the hospital for starters; everyone else has somehow become a flesh eating zombie. By the way; the reader never finds out how this happened and by adopting this approach Kirkman cleverly avoids falling into the trap of ‘zombie apocalypse cliché’, this tale is concerned more with how people react to the ongoing situation. Frank’s reaction is to go looking for his family and it’s not really a spoiler to say that he finds them (along with a group of refugees). The rest of the book focuses on the change in group dynamics following Frank’s arrival and builds up to a shocking conclusion.
I’m very much a ‘read a comic and then put it back on the shelf’ kind of guy (to the annoyance of newsagents everywhere!) but the consistent excellence of this series has prompted me to buy the first four graphic novels, reviews will follow. The plot is tightly run and it seems like nothing happens without a very good reason. I also liked the way Frank is drip-fed information during the course of his journey, seems like a good way of building things up for the reader while keeping a level of suspense throughout. The ending is signposted earlier on but I still never saw it coming; if you can’t find the next volume then the ending also works well in a ‘stand alone sense, questions are raised but there is also a sense of closure.
Tony Moore’s artwork is great and I am in awe of the way he has conveyed the visceral gore of zombies (and zombie attacks) without using any colour. The black and white panels also keep the reader’s attention (whereas the use of colour might have proved distracting) and are evocative in terms of the bleak realities that the characters face.
If you’re after something a little different than the latest superhero ‘crossover’ (or something more thoughtful than the standard ‘pulp horror’ comic) then you can’t go too far wrong with this series!

Nine out of Ten

Wednesday, 25 April 2007

‘The Lees of Laughter’s End’ – Steven Erikson

‘The Lees of Laughter’s End’ is the third novella featuring those nefarious necromancers Bauchelain and Korbal Broach but it actually sits (chronologically) between ‘Blood Follows’ and ‘The Healthy Dead’. Having left the city of Lamentable Moll, the necromancers and their hapless servant Emancipor Reese (who is beginning to realize that he picked the wrong job) take ship for a journey via the blood red sea-lane of Laughter’s End. However, trouble ever follows these two villains (although sometimes they follow it…) and before long they must deal with several undead monsters and an angry God…
One my favourite parts of ‘Memories of Ice’ was the introduction of Bauchelain & Korbal Broach; they had their part to play but also served to flesh out a world beyond the scheming of the Malazan Empire, the Bauchelain/ Korbal Broach ‘mini’ series does the same kind of thing in it’s brief sketches of lands that are barely hinted at in the main series.
‘Lees’ also showcases Erikson’s considerable skills as a writer of shorter fiction. What other writers (they know who they are!) struggle to fit into multi-volume epics Erikson achieves with consummate ease. In just over one hundred pages I was hooked by a tight plot (encompassing one day and night) and characters who held my attention and interest throughout. The main Malazan series has some moments of humour; in ‘Lees’ Erikson indulges both himself and the reader with these, laugh out loud moments for me included a conversation over the number of people called Briv (on board the ship) and the ill fortunes of seaman Gust Hubb (the poor guy…) The only problem I had was Erikson’s tendency to drop readers in the middle of the action without much background knowledge, this works fine in a longer novel (where information can be introduced gradually) but can leave the reader, of a shorter work, feeling that they’re missing something important. This is a small quibble though and the confirmed Erikson fan (me!) won’t find this a problem at all.
I heartily recommend this book to any Malazan fans or anyone thinking of getting into the series. It’s a touch expensive (£12 for a hardback, £25 for a signed hardback) but I think its money well spent.

Nine out of Ten

Tuesday, 24 April 2007

'Daywatch' (and the free screening that didn't quite happen...)

The internet is great isn’t it? Not only can I do things like this blog but every now and then a link comes up where you get free tickets to the cinema. I loved the film ‘Nightwatch’ so was looking forward to a free screening of ‘Daywatch’ (the second in the trilogy) last night, unfortunately there were far more tickets given out than seats available… Rather than tell you all about a long trek home in the rain, I thought I’d post what I was emailed about the film…

“Day Watch is a stand-alone film that takes place in modern day Moscow. On the side for good are the magically gifted Light Others. On the side for evil are the Dark Others - vampires, witches, shape-shifters and masters of black magic. Each side closely watches the other to make sure neither takes a wrong step and breaks the fragile Truce arrived at in medieval times.
Anton, a light other, and his rookie partner Svetlana, experience events that suggest to Anton that an ancient prophesy may be coming true. Only the Chalk of Fate - said to be able to literally re-write history - can change the ancient prophesy. The Prophesy predicts a Great Other will come and tip the scales of power toward darkness, re-igniting the war and plunging the world into eternal darkness. Anton and Svetlana must race to find the Chalk of Fate. At the same time, they must avoid the evil machinations of the Dark Others who try to frame Anton in a murder while also corrupting his young, yet estranged, son with their dark powers. Their failure to secure the Chalk of Fate could mean the end of the world.”

It looks good although I’m not too sure about having to find a ‘Chalk of Fate’, won’t they need some kind of magical blackboard as well? I'll be there when it opens (armed with the £5 off vouchers I was given!)

Out June 1st

Monday, 23 April 2007

'The Children of Hurin' - J.R.R Tolkien

If you looked at the title and thought ‘hang on, that sounds familiar…’ then you are more than half right. Strictly speaking, this isn’t a new work by Tolkien but rather a gathering together of notes by Christopher Tolkien (Tolkien’s son and literary executor) who has worked these into the tale of Turin, told in ‘The Silmarillion’ and ‘Unfinished Tales’, to create the stand alone piece that Tolkien apparently always envisaged.
Set in the First Age of Middle Earth (thousands of years before the One Ring was even forged), ‘The Children of Hurin’ is a bloody tale of fate, revenge and tragedy. Turin’s father (Hurin) is captured by the Dark Lord Morgoth but refuses to divulge the secret of the elven city of Gondolin. Hurin’s perceived arrogance brings down the curse of Morgoth on his family, a curse that is played out relentlessly until the final page.
‘The Children of Hurin’ takes a big step away from the jollity of ‘The Hobbit’ and the rites of passage themes in ‘Lord of the Rings’, it is a brooding piece that is concerned with the inevitability of fate and the cruel twists that lead there. In the world of the First Age, man seeks to control his own destiny but is ever subject to the whims of a dark power far greater than Sauron. In Turin’s case this is especially true, particularly with the advent of the Dragon Glaurung (Turin’s own nemesis).
I very much enjoyed this book; it delivers everything that Tolkien is renowned for (in terms of plot, history and strong distinctive characters) although I personally would have liked to have seen more of Glaurung. The illustrations, by Alan Lee, are as stunning and evocative as ever. ‘The Children of Hurin’ doesn’t actually deliver anything new to the canon as this story has been told before. What it does do however is provide the reader with a more accessible route into a period of Middle Earth history that the casual reader of Tolkien may not have found already. ‘The Silmarillion’ is notoriously heavy going while ‘The Children of Hurin’ (although dry at times) is eminently more readable. This was Christopher Tolkien’s aim and I think he achieves it very well indeed.

Eight and a Half out of Ten

Win a Review Copy of 'Selling Out' (Justina Robson)

I reviewed 'Selling Out' a little while ago and enjoyed it, now you folks have a chance to read it before it's released (17th May). If you want to win my copy it couldn't be easier, just send an email to graemesfantasybookreview(no-spam) (remove the 'no-spam' bit) and tell me that you're interested. I'll also need your mailing address (in case you win) and your username if you hang out on any forums (so it doesn't look like I'm making winners up!)
I'll give it a few days and let you all know who won...

Friday, 20 April 2007

‘Before They Are Hanged’ – Joe Abercrombie

An Inquisitor defends a desert city against the enemies without (and within), an ill equipped and ill prepared army prepares to face the encroaching menace from the north and a mismatched group of travelers head south to find an object of great power…
You may be forgiven for thinking you’ve read this tale before in hundreds of other fantasy books but the simple fact is that you haven’t. The second book in the ‘First Law’ series takes these tired old archetypes, mixes them all together with a dose of black humour (and strong characterization) and serves up a tale that will leave the reader surprised by the final twist and eagerly awaiting ‘The Last Argument of Kings’ (the third and final book).
Whilst the plot is as sharp as one of Inquisitor Glokta’s scalpels; it is the characterization that made this book shine for me, especially the way that Abercrombie adds a little twist to each of the characters so that they remain fresh throughout the story. The ‘obligatory fantasy wizard’ is in attendance but he is a cantankerous nasty piece of work who only appears to want to save the world as an afterthought whilst in pursuit of his own ends. There is also the barbarian ‘ultimate killer’ whose world weariness and insight into his berserker rages makes him appear more civilized than the more genteel people that he fights besides. Abercrombie doesn’t forget the lesser characters either, using the structure of his series to bring characters to the fore that will influence the tale in new and unexpected ways (look out for West and the Dogman). Inquisitor Glokta will eventually become one of fantasy’s most distinctive characters; enforced disability fuels his cynicism and rage but he is now beginning to find that he still has a heart. The only place where I felt Abercrombie slipped up slightly was in a certain character renouncing his selfishness and resolving to be a better person, it had to happen but it came too suddenly when a gradual movement would have felt more plausible.
I know it’s early to say things like this but I think this is certainly the best fantasy novel I’ve read so far this year and it could be the best overall.

Nine and a Half out of Ten

Thursday, 19 April 2007

What's coming up on the Blog...

I've just finished 'Before They Are Hanged' (Joe Abercrombie) and a full review will follow shortly. This series is going from strength to strength and I am already waiting impatiently for 'Last Argument of Kings' (won't be published until March 2008...)
'The Children of Hurin' (JRR Tolkien) is next up to be read and reviewed and the latest Steven Erikson novella 'The Lees of Laughters End'will follow that. I'm also going to be running competitions where I'll be giving away some of the review books I've recieved, come back and visit to be in with a chance!

'The Children of Hurin' - Alan Lee Signing (Forbidden Planet, London)

Alan Lee (illustrator for 'The Children of Hurin' and most other Tolkien hardback books) will be signing copies of the latest addition to the Middle Earth series tonight at the Forbidden Planet Megastore in London (between 6-7pm). If you're a fan of Tolkien or Alan Lee (or both!) this will be a great chance to meet the man who has given thousands of readers a window into the lands of Middle Earth.
I'll be there tonight, hope to see you there as well!

Wednesday, 18 April 2007

Sc-Fi TV! - ‘Lexx’ (‘I worship His Shadow’ – Lexx 1.1)

Channel Five premiered this slice of weird sci-fi (on terrestrial TV) about ten years ago and thanks to on-line dvd rental I’ve recently re-discovered the four TV movies that were first shown. Apparently they can only be rented now as they are out of print, this is a real shame as this series is still fun to watch.
Millennia from now (or millennia in the past according to the Time Prophet), humanity fought and won the Insect Wars, an upshot of which is that they now live under the iron dictatorship of His Shadow’s Divine Order. The prophecy says that the Divine Order will be destroyed at the hands of the Brunnen-G but His Shadow destroyed their home world 2000 years ago and the corpse of Kai (last of the Brunnen-G) now serves His Shadow as an undead assassin. As we join the story one of His Shadow’s plans is about to come to fruition. The Lexx (an insect spaceship with the power to destroy a planet) is almost fully-grown and ready to embark on its mission to bring order to heretic worlds. Once this mission has been carried out, His Shadow’s control over the Light Universe will be complete. In what can only be described as a comedy of errors the Lexx leaves the Cluster (planetary seat of power for His Shadow) but not controlled by the forces of Order. Instead; it is captained by Stanley Tweedle, the most cowardly security guard on the Cluster. He is desperate for female attention and is obsessed with Zev, a genetically engineered love slave. Unfortunately for Stanley, Zev cannot stand him and only has eyes for Kai, the undead assassin who regains his memories and seeks to fulfil the prophecy. The last member of the group is 790, a robot head that is madly in love with Zev (having received the programming meant for her). Fleeing the forces of His Shadow, they make their way through a fractal core into the Dark Zone (the polar opposite of the Light Universe) and it is here that they must find a new home…
Some sci-fi shows seek to depict alien life using special effects; others will develop elaborate histories. Special effects in ‘The Lexx’ are sometimes embarrassingly clunky (think ‘Blake’s 7’) but it’s alien settings are made believable through gratuitous violence and scantily clad women (don’t ask me why but this always seems to work!) Eva Habermann (Zev) and Brian Downey (Stanley) give a very good rendition of un-requited love versus utter contempt. As an emotionless undead assassin, Brian McManus (Kai) has the easiest (hardest?) acting role out of the three but makes up for this by getting chopped into pieces in various amusing ways.
If you can manage not to wince at some of the effects ‘Lexx 1.1’ makes for an enjoyable (if not very demanding) hour and a bit and sets things up very nicely for the next three TV movies.

Eight out of Ten

Tuesday, 17 April 2007

‘The Man With The Golden Torc (Secret Histories)’ – Simon R. Green.

I’m a big fan of Simon R. Green’s ‘Deathstalker’ series, it’s space opera that takes no prisoners but doesn’t take itself too seriously (George Lucas should have read these and learnt a thing or two!) Because all of the covers in this series are being redesigned I came to a full stop when I realised that ‘Deathstalker Honour’ cannot be found anywhere (unless you want to pay twenty-five pounds for an ex-library copy from America!). I emailed Jo Fletcher (editor at Gollancz Books) who suggested that while I waited for it to hit the shelves again I check out his latest book ‘The Man with the Golden Torc’. Not only did she direct my attention to a brand new series from a favourite author of mine, a few weeks later I found a review copy waiting for me when I got home. Thanks Jo!
‘The Man with the Golden Torc’ is another example of Green’s action packed yet irreverent approach to story-telling. The reader is introduced to a world that exists just at the corner of your eye, always disappearing when you turn around. All the conspiracy theories are real; so are demons, ghouls and the strange things that used to live underneath your bed when you were little. The only thing that stands between them and an unsuspecting humanity is the Drood (get it?) family, a family who will stop at nothing to protect the world. One of their top agents is Eddie Drood, fieldname: Shaman Bond (because you have to have a sense of humour in this line of work!). Eddie is the only member of the Drood family who is allowed a life outside the strict confines of the family manor but this means he becomes the most expendable asset when a routine mission becomes a set-up. Hounded by every single dark force that you can think of (and a few that you will have never even thought of), Eddie must figure out why he has been betrayed and face up to what he must do to ultimately gain revenge…
I’ll happily admit to being biased where Simon R. Green is concerned. In a world where the simple fun of Space Opera runs the risk of being stifled by Hard SF, the ‘Deathstalker’ series has been a breath of fresh air. The first book in the ‘Secret Histories’ series looks set to do the same thing for urban fantasy. All the staples are there for a cracking read; a fast paced plot (complete with car chases and big explosions) coupled with a main character that the reader really wants to succeed. Green’s sense of humour runs rampant throughout the book (as seen in the attack of the ‘CAR-nivores’ and an encounter with a President who really isn’t the one you’re thinking of!) and this onslaught does mean that some of the jokes and asides can be hit and miss. I found this easy to forgive as I really enjoyed the bits that made me chuckle.
The ‘blurred line between good and evil’ theme is in danger of being done far too much but it hasn’t yet been done quite like this. An adrenaline fuelled descent into the world of fairies and little green men that bodes well for the rest of the series. The blurb on the back says this is scheduled for release on 17th May 2007, if you’re lucky you’ll see it on the bookshelves a week earlier.

Eight and a half out of ten.

Thursday, 12 April 2007

‘Selling Out’ (Quantum Gravity Book 2) – Justina Robson

Ever since the Quantum Bomb exploded in 2015, things have never been quite the same. For a start, the terms ‘foreign affairs’ and ‘diplomatic relations’ take on a whole new meaning when the world of humanity suddenly finds itself riddled with dimensional portals leading to strange new worlds. In the world ‘post Quantum Bomb’ elves top the music charts and faeries have carved themselves a handy little niche in the hospitality industry. When the Demons aren’t busy feuding amongst themselves they’re looking into the possibility of running package holidays to Daemonia. No one really knows what the undead and the elementals are up to; no one has yet survived a trip to the Elemental dimension and no one is in a hurry to make deals with a necromancer!
Perhaps the strangest thing of all is Lila Black; part human, part robot (blame the elven secret service), part AI. Fuelled by a nuclear cell and bristling with state of the art firepower, a dead elven necromancer in her chest and a very much alive half elf (half demon) rock star for a boyfriend. Lila Black is the cutting edge of humanity’s covert relationship with its new neighbours, her mission into the decadent politics of Daemonia will test her skills to their limits.
Thanks to Jo Fletcher (Gollancz Books) for sending me a review copy of this book, I’d been meaning to pick up a copy of ‘Keeping it Real’ (Book One) but never quite got round to it. Thankfully, ‘Selling Out’ fills in the gaps so that the first time reader can get into the swing of things fairly quickly and concentrate on the double cross and intrigue that fill this book (no-one can be entirely trusted).
The over riding theme is Lila Black and her struggle to reconcile herself with her new life and it’s responsibilities, her old life (family in particular) also tries to assert itself. I found that although Robson paid a great deal of attention on expanding this theme it was sometimes done at the expense of the story. At times it seemed like every move Lila made was followed by her picking it to pieces (and worrying over where her life was now going). This meant that the pace stalled on occasion but this only happened rarely, I found that the plot generally moved along smoothly.
Although Lila is the star of the show, Robson brings other characters to the fore as well. Zal is also a character with hidden depths and conflicts (some of which look to be expanded upon in later books) as well as a rock star attitude that will appeal to all.
Although Robson’s characterisation is more than sound, her strength lies in the portrayal of the worlds that exist alongside each other in the book. All are completely alien yet very accessible at the same time. The reader may not feel at home amongst the intricate politics of Daemonia but they certainly feel comfortable enough to want to stick around and see what happens next.
I enjoyed the cyberpunk ‘feel’ of a world where magic and technology had come together, a tone that was reminiscent (to me) of ‘Count Zero’ by William Gibson. ‘Selling Out’ has it’s faults but has done enough to make me want to go back to the beginning and start again from there (if I ever get round to picking up a copy that is…)Look for a copy of this book early next month.

Seven and a half out of ten

Thursday, 5 April 2007

‘The Culled’ – Simon Spurrier.

Abaddon Books are on a mission to deliver a new generation of pulp fiction to a new generation of readers. Any publisher that starts the blurb with the line ‘He made a stand against the end of the world’ is making their intent pretty clear! Just in case you were still in any doubt, the book throws you into a world where plague has killed everyone bar those with a certain blood type. The world that remains is one of feudal savagery, ruled by those with the most guns and access to cannibalized technology (very much a’ la Mad Max). Our hero (an MI6 operative, add another cliché to the mix!) begins the book in a festering London and travels to an apocalyptic New York where he takes on an ‘end time’ religion which is stealing the world’s children. This isn’t the reason why he’s in New York though, this isn’t made clear until the very end of the book.
I think it was the fact that this book threw every pulp cliché into the pot (and stirred it up with a livid mixture of gunfire and car chases), with no regard for how it would compare against more ‘serious’ sci-fi/fantasy fiction that made me enjoy it so much. There was no pretense at a ‘message’, ‘world building’ or hard science; just superhero agents and hard women with soft centres which was exactly what Abaddon have said they’ll deliver (and they deliver it with a gutsy style of no compromising).
I found my copy in a charity shop which may say something about the long term readability of these books but for a short, intense and satisfying read you can’t go too far wrong with one of these books. I’m looking forward to reading about jet powered nazis and dinosaurs invading London very soon!

Seven out of Ten

'The Execution Channel' - Ken Macleod

Thanks to George Walkley (Orbit Books) for sending me this book.
The world of (not too long after) tomorrow lurches from one crisis to another. War is rife in the Middle and Far East as the oil supplies run dry. America is covered with refugee camps as it suffers multiple climate-change disasters. Conspiracy theories abound, most of which are spread by government agencies of misinformation, and killings from around the world are broadcast twenty-four hours a day on the ‘Execution Channel’.
Roisin Travis is a protestor at a US Airbase in Scotland; she receives a coded message from her brother (serving in Afghanistan) to leave the area immediately. Minutes later, a mysterious object, on the airbase, detonates with the force of an atomic bomb. Her father, James Travis, has troubles of his own. His cover (as an agent working for the French Secret Service) has been blown; he also sees the coded message and makes for Scotland and Roisin. Events reach their conclusion as both Roisin and James Travis fight to stay free of various agencies trying to track them down for the information they carry. No one can be trusted and the price of failure is a guest slot on the Execution Channel…
There are speculative elements in this book but at heart it’s a good old-fashioned political thriller. I don’t read these very often (and have never read anything by Ken Macleod who’s more well known for his science fiction works) so was interested to see what it was like. On the whole this was an entertaining book to read and Macleod certainly ticked all the right boxes with regards making this a book that I wanted to finish. Macleod treats all his characters equally in that each one of them is as well rounded as the next. This effectively means that there are no supporting characters, each of them has something valid and important to add to the plot. The plot itself is also (for the most part) handled well in a book that is only 306 pages long. The scene is set and the plot progresses to its conclusion in a well-ordered fashion with no unnecessary meandering along the way.
However, for me, the shortness of the book is also its greatest downfall. Macleod packs a lot of information into a short space and sometimes this means that plot points which need expanding (in order to make sense in the context of the book) are cut short. Oblique references to Heim theory don’t really connect to the rest of the story and this robs the climax of some of its power. Perhaps Macleod’s attempts to play off conspiracy theories against each other merely result in the story itself being swamped.
A good premise that maybe needed another hundred pages to make a great book.

Five out of Ten