I'm a big and fan and would give it five if not so many reviews already. Am I a masochist? I like my plots dizzyingly complicated and find it admirable when the threads of a complex story are bought to a slow convergence. I like my future physics to have at least a bit of credibility. I like my sci-fi to be brimming with ideas, it's what the genre's about after all, and I can think of no writer who brings more ideas to the table than Reynolds. The characters ARE secondary, I read literature not sci-fi when I want to read fine characterisation. The technology and the huge scale of events are the primary factors in this genre. People say this is badly written when thyere is so much very average sci-fi out there. In fact, apart from Reynolds I can't think of anyone writing good hard sci-fi out there. I've lost patience with Banks because he puts a lot of work into his characters but they never make sense.
I did. some of it is very good like the crow road and whit and thin air. some of it is average like canal dreams and a song of stone. some is pointless, like walking on glass. But the algebraist put me off all his subsequent work
I thought the sci-fi was first class and on the whole I thought this was a great book, though I did find my attention wandering constantly. Think this has something to do with Reynolds' style, which is akin to eating a meal and then being given the flavours afterward; "oh they were roast potatoes".
. The characters didn't connect with me much. Hopefully the women of tomorrow won't be anything like Reynolds' female characters. Us men will have to become homosexual if we're going to find those sorts of women attractive. For 'strong female character' read 'quasi man'. Could do with a few REAL women in his books. They're all a bit Ripley for my liking.
Also, I couldn't help wondering about the subtext, which admittedly is very sub indeed, but it does only take a single frame showing a pic of a hotdog in a 90 min movie to boost sales. Not sure I agree with the idea that if it weren't for greedy self interested manipulative calculating warmongers we'd all still be living in caves, and eating are food raw. It's interesting that the only people that approached being baddies in this book were essentially pacifists and revolutionaries. And was it just coincidence that 'true path' contains the word truth? am I reading too much into it? Greedy liars do like to put it about that the world is better off because of greed and lies. Just as chickens would, if they could, convince us that eating chicken is a dreadful thing to do. But in spite of the non-women, the 'war is cool' motif, and the need to support the kinds of people who in real life I would despise, it was a pretty good read. I think what divides people is the fact that if you took away the quality of the hard science fiction, you'd be left with a book of dull characters engaged in a pointless plot that had been torn apart and jumbled up for no other reason than to have the reader keep reading to find out what the hell is going on.