Most helpful critical review
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Good Threads, Poor Cloth
on 11 March 2004
Although crammed with fascinating ideas and livened by moments of humour and irony, Newton's Wake disappointed me. It is by far the weakest of his stories so far. Why? It's hard to put a finger on it. Perhaps it's because the events are episodic and disconnected in time and place. Scenes of conflict and war bubble up with little preparation or justification, seemingly just to provide some action. Perhaps it is because few characters are developed beyond charicature (Winters and Calder, the folk singers, and Higgens being notable exceptions). Perhaps it is because the societies and systems of the future are quite 'cartoon'-like. The story is also strangely lacking in visual texture and description - my overriding impression is of drab and barren moorland.
Probably, it is a combination of all of these elements, meaning that Newton's Wake is an interesting essay, and very entertaining in episodes, but fails as a story. Still, that being said, it's better than 90% of the junk of the science fiction shelves at the moment, which fail in every way.