Nelder’s world building is excellent and his scientific capability is very clear. Everything flows smoothly and makes perfect sense, even when it involves the wryly sardonic artificial intelligence, Can, whose witty missives are no longer quite as futuristic as it was in books 1-3 given the speed at which AI is developing, quantum displacement technology (the “pinch”), or turbojets that are able to descend into Jupiter.
In effortlessly elegant and comic prose, The Plotinus probes the impulses and desires that bring joy to human life while, at the same time, upending literary conventions that contemporary readers may take as immutable truths. As though she were playing with us from the title, she signals an exploration of The Plot In Us.
Isle of Dogs is full of densely plotted, exciting political intrigue and violence. But Frankel is at best when writing about the intimacies of daily life which persevere in this new world–a meal made with food grown at a garden, a woman’s relief at putting a baby to a full breast, a man picking up his child before going to work.
His worlds are full of anomalies that draw on real-life quantum quirks, cosmic paradoxes and biological anomalies, and his aliens are both delightfully bizarre and yet somehow plausible. He is a writer who knows his sci-fi tropes well enough to twist them into a Möbius strip and take them to new places while still providing plenty of easter eggs to keen readers of the genre.
Like the best sci fi writers, Bell doesn’t hesitate to draw out the parallels between her futuristic world and our own, using the imaginary to highlight the all-too-real. What is also obvious is that there are some aspects of life that are core to happiness, no matter the context: love, empathy, and care.
Paolini has successfully crossed-over into the sci fi realm and it’s obvious he’s done his physics homework, utilising existing science and scientific theories in a way that would make Arthur C Clark proud. The work displays a great deal of creative ingenuity, with well-developed and interesting aliens (who are neither like ET nor like super-humans), witty spacecraft banter, all sorts of fun technologies, a super fast-paced plot line that is deeply engaging—this is an easy-read— and description that is often poetic, charged by an obvious love of astronomy.
A Superior Spectre is deftly constructed piece of literature. It sits shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the greats. Thematically it is a worthy companion-piece to Angela Carter’s The Passion of New Eve. Structurally it folds like the origami of Italio Calvino’s If On A Winter’s Night A Traveler, and Jennifer Egan’s The Keep. Stylistically it employs some of the fuzzy voice of China Mieville’s This Census Taker, where the who and when of the narrator becomes blended and circular.
With this new novel, the cosmopolitan Tidhar turns away from the noir that drove his award-winning Osama, The Violent Century, and A Man Lies Dreaming. Those who appreciated the Dashiell Hammett/Raymond Chandler scrubbed into a pulpy Po-Mo alternative reality resembling a lighthearted Phillip K. Dick will still find that in Central Station through Achimwene—a bookseller in an age when books are antiquated commodities—whose life “had been a Romance, perhaps, of sorts. But now it became a Mystery” when he meets and falls in love with the data/memory vampire (alternately called “strigoi” and “shambleau”) Carmel.
The author of Welcome to the Arms Race talks about his new novel and how it relates (or doesn’t relate) to his previous novel, about his favourite sci-fi writers, and particularly about Lawrence Miles, about the Singularity, Artificial Intelligence, and lots more.
An Android Awakes is an entertaining, sexy, terrifying, and beautiful novel, full of bleakness and fun. While the book is probably not going to suit the prudish or faint-hearted reader looking for an easy read, other readers will enjoy the rich and powerful language, the complex plot lines, and the wacky and inventive landscape that both French and Brown have created in this superb graphical novel.