on 16 January 2015
This trilogy is simply one of the best things I have read this year. I was introduced to Tony Ballantyne through Dream London - which I loved and would recommend, but these books are somthing else altogether. they haunt me and I think about them all the time. In fact, I can't wait to re-read them.
on 13 June 2007
This is a sequel to 'Capacity' and has many characters in common. While not (on the face of it) as complex or as fast-paced as its predecesor, it does move steadily towards its tremendously thought-provoking climax. It's almost impossible to describe without giving the game away, but suffice to say that Ballantyne is tackling huge themes here, and doing it with great confidence. And if this book smacks at times of the mystical, well that's one of the things that great sci-fi can handle really well. Read this if you like the work of Cordwainer Smith (it has some themes in common, even though Ballantyne has a distictive voice of his own), or if you are an afficionado of literate, concept-driven science fiction. By the time I'd finished it I was proud to be a flawed human, and I think you will be too. It's only his third novel, as far as I know, but he just gets better and more ambitious. What is amazing is that he can carry it off so well.
Divergence in the final installment in Ballantyne's Watcher trilogy, which initially tells how an alien artifical intelligence (the Watcher) takes over the internet and becomes the benign dictator of a starfaring humanity.
In Capacity, the enigmatic but deadly Schrodinger Boxes are introduced, and the Watcher is seemingly helpless against this threat. Divergence resolves this story and has a couple of nice gags (although I kicked myself over the kittens).
One of the strengths of the series are the way it examines issues such as personality and reality, in a manner reminiscent of a tech-savvy Philip K Dick. The ending however is very bizarre, and the idea of a alien capitalist technological tyranny inspiring Christ is the icing on a very odd cake.
Worth reading, if only for the feeling as your jaw hits the floor at the end, but only 3 stars as a result.
on 4 July 2008
This is a unfair review as I didn't have the patience to read this book through to the end. It's written in a stilted style that reminds me of Enid Blyton's Famous Five Books - but with the added irritation of occasional gratuitous profanities. Even if you have read other books in this series and enjoyed them, you might still want to read a few pages in the bookshop before you shell out money for this.
on 20 January 2008
I remeber thinking Capacity was OK, so I bought Divergence on the strength of that experience. I really could not be interested enough to finish it. It gets two stars because I did not think it really apalling. The characters are the occupants of an interstellar trading ship which meets other ships and trades something with them. I say something because it is not clear what they trade. In the process, some sort of nanotechnology changes their ship - but I was not sure to what purpose. this happens a couple of times - again I am not sure why. The characters were not really there for me. Nor was the plot.