Saturday, March 16, 2013

Force Cantrithor

I just finished reading Force Cantrithor by Michael McCloskey.
Force Cantrithor proposes a new kind of space warfare technology based on FTL electromagnetic field manipulation. The tech is pretty cool, but even though FTL travel also exists, I couldn't help having some believability issues with it. In fairness, the characters were also struggling with the paradoxes this might create and some of the other uses of it that come in later in the book, so it has clearly been thought about, and does form the central focus of the novel. In the end I feel fine about that, as this is what SF is all about; pushing some concepts and discovering the ramifications.
The book is written really well, and I especially enjoyed the ending - actually the pacing was good throughout. I thought the character work was quite good. The central character Emil struggles with his abilities and his humanity and the reader learns along with him what his situation truly is and what is really going on. The slow discovery of his story was part of the fun; my guess about halfway through was pretty close to the mark, but still not on it.
Part of the book was clearly setting up for future novels in the series, so I look forward to reading more.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Zero Point

I just finished reading Zero Point, Neal Asher's second in the Owner series.
And I thought the first novel in this series was hugely violent; I actually felt a little nauseous reading some of this. Zero Point takes the wasteful, corrupt, self-serving, brutal leadership of Earth's "Committee" and then completely frees it of restraint, balance, morals and restrictions. The result is a psychotic, damaged, paranoid, control-freak greenie leader who starts laying waste to the Zero Asset part of Earth's population. The results are truly horrible, and this is even before she tortures her father for two weeks straight.
The story is split between Mars, the Argus space station and Earth, and everyone is struggling to survive, obviously except the leader of Earth who has every luxury available and fawning minions trying not to be noticed. Alan Saul with others on the Argus further develops some interesting technology, the distributed brain/processing cubes and androids are very cool. I'm trying not to spoil too much of what develops, but there is certainly plenty to keep a constant interest in events.
I enjoyed most of the characters and their development, although I thought Hannah was a little flat and less interesting than in 'The Departure'. I enjoyed Var's struggle with leadership and responsibility on Mars.
I love Asher's chapter beginnings which all have a little bit of history which help tie this unreal Earth back to ours, and show us the path to this nightmare. A little bit of social and political commentary in there too.
Good stuff!