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

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