I was very excited to read this book, but also a little apprehensive. In theory I love hard science-fi, because it seems so real, so true, so possible. But in practice, I’m easily lost: most hard science-fi books dwells on physics and, if I know that universe and space mean physics, and if I’m genuinely interested in the subject, it’s alas a case of unrequited love there… I love science in general, but my kind of science is clearly biology (which is not, in my opinion, enough developed in science-fi) and advanced physics are difficult for me.
I went through three phases reading this book.
At the very beginning I was quite happy: the story was immediately interesting, the characters were engaging, and the quantum magician seems to be absolutely there, in a human kind of way, not as a concept floating in an esoteric no-space or such as I had feared (in some hard science-fi I frequently have the impression of reading with my eyes closed, as in some dreams, when and where I can never focus whatever the efforts I make). So a good start!
At about ten per cent in the story, I had quite a shock: suddenly I was facing a long explanation about the functioning of the quantum man’s brain. Quite fascinating in theory, but absolutely abstruse for the reader I am. And – have I told you yet? quite long. I read on, not understanding much, till I had to stop and think about my dilemma. I clearly wasn’t able to appreciate this kind of explanation, but on the other hand had really loved the story so far and really wanted to know some more. So I pondered a few minutes and finally decided, sighing sadly, that I was perfectly able to skim through unintelligible passages and understand, if not all of it, at least the general idea. Not comfortable, but manageable.
Actually, I had kittens for nothing ! Those difficult passages were very few in the books, and always useful, never gratuitous. After some more exposition I understood more and more about the quantum brain and was able to surf upon some other explanations (those less interesting in my point of view). In fact, during the book I never had another difficult moment before the final grand action, which is never my cup of tea anyway (during Still’s parts to be precise). The whole read was delightful, and very supple.
In the end I had just two discomforts during my read. The brainy-quantum explanation which happened in my opinion to early in the book (not to mention too long :P). Also I was also frequently discountenanced, in the very beginning, by the narration using the third person, as it had clearly a first person vibe for me. Maybe the very first had been written at the first person before being rewritten in another way? This dissonance disappeared very quickly though (so I could have shut up about it; maybe).
I must seem quite a quibbler there ! If so, it’s because I loved this book so much that I was frustrated by these little flaws… And also because I have a self-appointed mission: to reassure the readers who may feel lost at the same very point I was, that it won’t be the general tone it the story, and that any reader may be able to appreciate it without any suffering!
The fantastic points are plentiful.
Firstly, absolute different voices for all the characters, which is finally quite rare. The characters are wonderful, their personalities, their stories, their interactions – just flawless!
The story in itself is quite interesting, with a strong general idea around quantum people and why the main character, who differs from the quantum people’s norm, decided to chose another live, one of criminal projects. The sub-story around the Puppet people is so brilliant that it could be the only reason to read the book!
One particular aspect impressed me a lot and made for a wonderful read: the way the author skillfully develops its story’s background, without never ever frustrating his reader. From the start some particularities of the science-fi world are exposed, as the three new human races, bio-engineered (I must confess a soft spot for this theme, what a treat here!), making the reader wanting to know more about it. Then, through future developments, all you’ll need and want to know will be displayed, just at the perfect moment, without any info-dump nor artificial exposition: du grand art, vraiment 🙂 The same thing can be said for the characters’ stories, which are unveiled, little by little, with perfect subtlety.
I could rave and rave for hours about this book which, despite one or two details, turned out to be exactly what I expect from a science-fi story, but I’ll stop there, hoping to have help future readers! And for me, I’m looking forward reading the next author’s book… Soon I hope ?
(A review copy (e-galley) of this book was provided by the publisher through netgalley)