The story is really strong and there are some excellent ideas here. The ending is also very good - I thought there would probably be some sort of 'get-out' but there wasn't - the characters have to live with the results of their actions.
But this book is just so badly written. The continual use of really over-the-top metaphor just reduces the whole thing to almost a pastiche of Flash Gordon - it is so 'gee-whizz' that it really started wearing me down. Yet I got through it - and I got through it because the ideas were so strong.
I think comparing it to early Alistair Reynolds is probably fair - but I actually got through this, whereas I simply gave up on Revelation Space
. Give him his due, Reynolds has improved considerably since then. His latest - House of Suns
- is a good read. So here's hoping Mr Gibson improves likewise.
What am I going to do when the next one comes out? Torn between the lure of some really powerful sci-fi ideas and the complete turn-off of a positively juvenile literary style; well, to be honest, I'll probably buy it. If you've ever read any early Alfred Bester (not including The Stars My Destination
), you'll know that substance can definitely make up for form. :-)