25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First book in a brilliant new series
This is the first book in the "Quantum Gravity" series. The publication date for the second, "Selling out", has slipped to May 2007 and I don't know how I'm going to stand the wait.
The Quantum Gravity series is set in a future where a disaster in 2015, the "Quantum bomb" has removed the barrier between the earth inhabited by humans like ourselves, formerly...
Published on 25 May 2006 by Marshall Lord
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good ideas, but overall weak execution
Keeping It Real is the first novel in the Quantum Gravity series by British SF author Justina Robson. Robson is a noted author of hard SF novels such as Silver Screen and Mappa Mundi, but for her latest project she has ventured into Science Fantasy, giving us a world where cyborgs and elves coexist with fairies and advanced AIs.
In 2015 the Quantum Bomb...
Published on 8 Jun 2007 by A. Whitehead
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4.0 out of 5 stars A little confusing, but I still liked it...,
It's maybe got a bit too much going on though, if I'm honest. I did really like it, but sometimes it felt like it wasn't sure what it wanted to be. It's got science and tech stuff which is good for the sci fi fan but is a minus for me because in truth I can do without knowing the 'why's' and 'how's'. Then it's got the fantasy stuff which I'm more comfortable with (elves, demons, fae...otherworldly types), but the parallel otherworld thing was a bit confusing because I never really worked out who belonged where and/or why. Then there was the mystery part which kept the story moving and I enjoyed that part but at times even that failed to deliver and I was left wondering the significance. More than all of that though, it was the romance which seemed out of place and incomplete. There was a bit of the 'will they, won't they?' going on and more could have been made of that to keep tying things together but every time it looked like it was going somewhere and had a point....it fizzled out and went flat.
I think (expect) that side of things will take off in further books and I do plan on reading them, I'm looking forward to them actually, but I just wish there had been more of a connection for the two main characters in 'this' one.
I never really felt like I got to know the full story here, all the way through I kept thinking there was something I was missing or something I wasn't being told. It's quirky and unusual and you'll have to open your mind and just accept it for what it is but sometimes 'what it is' isn't that clear.
However, for all my misgivings I'd definitely recommend it. It's a good story which I'm hopeful will flesh out over the rest of the series.
4.0 out of 5 stars Moments of narrative dissonance - but enjoyable,
For more than half the book, the narrative was firmly limited to a third-person subjective view of agent Lila Black and we were privy to almost everything that made her tick - which was especially interesting given that she's a cyborg. Then all of a sudden it switched to rock star elf Zal for a single chapter (a trick repeated a couple of chapters later). This really interrupted the flow for me. Fortunately it soon got back on track.
I was directed to this book via Amazon recommendations, so am not familiar with the author or her earlier Arthur C Clarke award nominated work. However, this was fun rather than cerebral, an enjoyable romp combining cyberpunk with Tolkienesque fantasy - and the music business.
It ended if not on a cliffhanger then still right in the middle of the story. I will read the next one at some point and look forward to reacquainting myself with Lila and exploring the other worlds alluded to in the first volume.
3.0 out of 5 stars Oh come on it's not *that* bad,
"Keeping It Real" by Justina Robson is a fun read. It's one of those Science Fantasy novels that blurs the distinction between Science Fiction and Fantasy even more than it already is. That the female main character is a cyborg and the male main character is an elf kind of sums that up.
Premise - in 2015 a Supercollidor in Texas explodes and rips a hole between dimensions. Six years later humanity is having to deal with magic, elves, demons, faeries and elementals. And Special Agent Lila Black, a young woman who's half-robot after nearly being killed by an elf (and who thus has 'issues' with elves) has just been assigned as bodyguard to Zal - an elven rockstar.
Yes, it's fun, but it's certainly not high art. It has no pretensions of being high art.
This is, however, a book in serious need of an editor. I've read in many writing books that the major publishing houses are neglating editing and publishing stuff that they think will sell without editing. And bloody hell, I think they're right. This could have done with both editing (the plot flags in places - but not too many) and copy-editing (hello, traditionally published book with more gramatical errors than some self-published books I've read). Clearly Gollancz are neglecting editing.
It's sad, because this is a good book that could have been very good with some tight editing. It's still a good read anyway as long as you can tolerate the slight sloppiness of the execution, and as long as you take it for what it is (extremely silly fun) and don't expect more than that.
17 of 23 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Science fiction readers deserve better than this,
This review is from: Keeping It Real: Quantam Gravity Book One (Hardcover)I came to this book after reading the author's previous novel, Living Next Door to the God of Love, which if not entirely successful was ambitious and innovative. Keeping it Real, unfortunately, is not even of that calibre. The ideas are interesting (I have no objection to combining elements of sf and high fantasy), but the novel appears to have been written very quickly and only lightly edited (if at all) before publication.
The premise is that a quantum bomb created openings between our world (since renamed Otopia, for reasons never explained) and numerous other worlds (ie Alfheim, Faery, Thanatopia). These worlds are little more than cardboard backdrops. Otopia is skimpily described, with few material differences from the world we know. A sojourn in Alfheim feels like a hike through generic woodland, with no telling details to bring it into focus. The closest we come to the fantastical is being told that "everything is more itself there -- like ultra-authentic".
Before the novel opens the protagonist, Lila Black, suffered life-threatening injuries during a diplomatic mission. She was (implausibly) given a choice between dying or being rebuilt -- complete with restored limbs, nuclear core, and various armament -- on the condition that she cut off contact with her family and friends, who are told that she is dead. (Why? The author doesn't say.) The names of her loved ones appear on the page a few times, like tokens of a backstory rather than people for whom the protagonist feels a real sense of loss.
The behaviour of principal characters is inconsistent, often scarcely credible. Lila Black, who is supposed to be a ruthless spy, comes across as a troubled teenager. She flirts clumsily with Zal, the high elf rock star she's been assigned to protect, who himself behaves like a rebellious, surly adolescent. Lila is insecure about her new (half machine) body, but as soon as it becomes convenient for the plot she abruptly loses all self-consciousness.
Lila's relationship with Dar, the elf responsible for torturing her almost to the point of death, is one of the most implausible aspects of the book. She loathes him for about 5 minutes, then her anger dissipates because "it made her feel like a total jerk". After a few half-hearted attempts at hostile dialogue, any pretense of animosity is abandoned. As they are obliged to travel together for several days, their relationship quickly moves to friendship and then sexual attraction.
Secondary characters rarely rise above stereotype -- such as the demon who talks like a black chick from the hood and a psychologist who advises Lila to "take time for yourself".
The novel suffers from numerous basic writing errors: said bookisms, excessive adverbs, inconsistent levels of diction, incorrect punctuation. In a few places the quality of the writing is cringe-inducing ("This is so incredibly -- well, she hated to say it, being a top spy with a mission, but -- it was so cool!").
Some may excuse this book's failings on the grounds that it is intended as light entertainment. But it does not succeed either as entertainment (not being very entertaining) nor as satisfying fiction with memorable characters and settings. For science fiction to be meaningful, we must at a minimum be able to believe in the characters. To paraphrase an eminent science fiction writer, they are the real toads in the imaginary garden.
Writers in this genre have a responsibility to set high standards for themselves -- because there are few critics with high expectations, while the mediocre and the excellent alike are devoured by fans. It's worrisome that this novel is the first in a projected series. It marks a major step-down for a talented writer who seemed previously to aspire to work of greater scope and ambition.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for this sci-fi reader,
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The central conceit of the series (connected parallel fantastic worlds) struck me as under explored and clunkily implemented. A traversable connexion between parallel worlds is a fine idea for a sci-fi/fantasy novel to work with. However, as the under pinning of everything else that goes on in this series, this central idea needed greater attention than it was given. Sundered space/time might be expected to connect to either a single alternate world or infinite parallel ones. The limiting of the connected worlds to The Normal One, The Elven One, The Demonic One, The Elemental One, The Faery One and The Dead One (have I got that right?) felt a tad clunky. The history and nature of inter-world connexion is sketchily glossed over, leaving it an all too exposed plot device.
Other aspects of the book, such as the interplay of the sci-fi and fantasy elements or the distinction between the human, cyborg, elf, demon and faery characters, didn't work as well for me as they might have.
I suppose that whilst I enjoy some fantasy novels, I am more of a sci-fi reader and this could account for the problems I had with this book. If you're more of a fantasy reader than I am, you may well enjoy this book more than I did.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Reading,
Not my 5 star type book, as that is more SF than Fantasy. I will buy the sequel and am looking at Ms Robson's other offerings.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,
I bought the book from a high street shop on more of a whim, not knowing the author and not expecting very much - but was pleasantly surprised at the depth of the world she has created - she has made a real effort to make the world(s) described believable and logical - yes there is magic etc but the way she explains it makes sense in a real way not just they cast a spell and it worked which is so often the case!
The characters are well thought out and develop through the book, starting out relatively shallow and you think you know them and not always like them...but as you read further and get involved with the events of whats actually happening, the characters grow and develop, especially Lila who you do have to remember is not long out of recovery on her first mission as a proper agent (and a cyborg as well).
I'm looking forward to the next book to see how things develop, and i really hope Lila's relationships are maintained and not ditched in a James Bond style for a new thrill in each book.
So, yes, in summary - i liked it, and will keep it, and read it many times for enjoyment and inspiration.
14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I wanted to like it...,
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Sadly it didn't live up to my expectations. I was only a few pages in before I realised that the writing itself was pretty thin. Leaving little to excite me about the worlds nor the characters due to a lack of quality descriptive writing or particularly compelling observations on either these fantasy worlds or our own - especially with regards to the characters themselves.
The books major failing is that all the elements are extremely hackneyed to the point of eye-rolling sighs. The Elf-world is little more than a cheap photocopy of a thousand other similar worlds and the central character is so astoundingly shallow and inconsistent in her emotions that she lands outside the "enigmatically troubled" category and squarely in the "soap opera teen" catchment.
There is the rumbling of a far more interesting ongoing plot with some intriguing political machinations to keep an eye out for, which does lift proceedings somewhat, but this is going to need some seriously improved storytelling to give it the wings it deserves.
The suggestion that this book feels massively rushed do hold a lot of water, there were moments when I wasn't sure whether Robson had actually read the previous paragraph let alone the previous chapter, so inconsistent is the characterisation and random the reversals of attitude and emotional attachment.
The few great ideas (including a fascinating "possession" sub-plot) and a genuinely interesting base premise don't add up to much in this first book. I wanted to like it, maybe the next one will see the series live up to it's own potential.
4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well - I liked it,
I'm certainly going to buy some more of the author's books
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Back to her old self,
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Keeping It Real (Quantum Gravity, Book 1): Quantam Gravity Book One by Justina Robson