7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well developed character in a disfunctional future
If you like a book where an author creates a memorable character then you really have to try this title by Simon Morden. Within this title you'll meet Petrovitch, calculating, logical and above all else selfish, until the day he breaks his own rules and puts his life in danger. It's a great story of human development as the tales hero has to adapt to the changes and...
Published on 3 April 2011 by Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fast-paced and thoroughly enjoyable thriller.
The world of Equations of Life is set two decades after 'Armageddon'. The world has been hit by a number of nuclear attacks leaving London as England's sole surviving city. The rest of the world hasn't fared much better; may people have been left radiation scarred by their experiences in the Armageddon. The Japanese have fared even worse. The islands have been, by the...
Published on 13 May 2011 by R. Palmer
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining enough to warrant a few sequels,
We're in London, in some kind of near future, post-apocalyptic world. We're following a young Russian refugee, Petrovich, who has computer skills and access to funds, but prefers to live a low-key, anonymous existence. The only interactions he seems to have are with his local cafe owner, and a university colleague.
The opening chapters of Equations of Life are intriguing, if slightly familiar - I found myself imagining the film 'Children of Men', with its similarly bleak, grey vision of a future London. The details and back story are left quite sketchy, but given that this is the first book in a planned series of 20, there should be plenty of time to fill in the blanks.
Once the scene is set, however, things escalate rapidly, and go from believable sci-fi to full-on, mildly preposterous action movie. It's not a bad thing by any means, but it does take you by surprise a little.
Petrovich gets involved in a kidnapping attempt, and soon we're in the territory of feuding uber-gangsters, indestructible nuns and pseudo-religious machine war. Luckily, there is a decent idea at the core of the story, which is sufficient to maintain interest through the more bombastic set-pieces.
It may not have been the book I expected at the beginning, but I enjoyed it enough to look for the second instalment. I suspect that twenty books will prove to be a little over-ambitious, but for now I'll give Simon Morden the benefit of the doubt.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cyberpunk with a heart,
I'm not a huge fan of SF in general, and the few cyberpunk books I have read, including some of Gibson's earlier works, seemed to me to fail due to the focus on technology over character and plot. With this in mind, I wasn't hugely optimistic about Equations Of Life, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised.
This is undeniably cyberpunk, but it's character-driven. The protagonists are well-sketched, complex personalities, and you identify and empathise with them. The plot is interesting, right up to the denouement, and the technology supports the plot, not the other way round. The concept of the story is interesting, and the writing draws you into the story and the characters. As a bonus, there's a welcome lack of plot holes or deus-ex-machina resolutions.
In short, a substantially above-average piece of SF - thoroughly recommended. I'll be looking out for more of Morden's work.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Well-paced dystopian action adventure,
A well-plotted and fast paced adventure that keeps the attention all the way through and keeps the pages turning. True to the genre, there are not many twists and turns, just successive obstacles for the (flawed) hero to overcome, but Morden makes these obstacles interesting enough to keep us with him. It's particularly refreshing (after reading many novels with a too-clever-for-their-own-good writing style) that Morden's simple and direct prose doesn't get in the way but stands aside and lets the story through.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected delight in Cyberpunk sci-fi genre,
I am not a fan of cyberpunk science-fiction, but the catchy blurb on the back cover made me pick this book up. After several disappointments with similar blurbs, (ala film trailers being the most interesting part of the movie) I had low expectations, especially since the title was vaguely self aggrandizing . But the hero, Samuil Petrovitch hit the ground running and never stopped.
As a survivor of a post-apocalyptic world, Samuil is a Russian emigre/refugee with a hidden past and failing heart, making his way in a recognisable but very changed London.
After saving the daughter of a Yakuza boss, enemies crop up as quickly as the chapters progress, in order of appearance: Eastern European mobsters, cops, certain yakuza, a computer fascimile of Japan, the unhinged American creator of said fascimile, the City of London under the control of said fascimile, a neighbourhood gang...
The storyline is propelled by ideas that while not particularly original, weave together to create an immersive experience: you care for the characters, you laugh at the occupational and foreign stereotypes and you can visualise the set scenes, and more importantly, want to.
In the rush, Samuil gets the hots for the Yakuza boss' daughter and a fighting nun. He solves the Unified theory (touched upon by the title) when the main researcher is sleeping. He dies several times (heart fails).
And why I really like this book? Through the entire scream of a tale, Morden never drops the ball or my interest. The futuristic world he creates isn't crazy for craziness sake or "atmosphere". I have to say that Morden's vivid description of the city and its denizens make this future London not just a backdrop, but a major player. The subsequent Deus ex Machina is only a portion of the story, not the entire resolution. The prose is simple, almost teen fiction level. But the concepts and increasingly intricate plot is actually easy to follow. If you are a sci-fi fan, you never think "amateur/childish" because you are too engrossed in the developing story.
I would almost put to you that Morden plotted the storyline and relationships on a diagram similar to a cops timeline-relationship caseboard, then just wrote the best he could. He achieved a brilliant result, whatever method he used! Another game one could play is to see how many concepts (eg Tron, Black Rain) the author incorporates into the storyline?
This is one of the few times the catchy blurb does not do the story justice. Indeed, it is far removed!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fantasy in a decaying London of an alternative near future,
Fast paced, yes, genius hero - but with a major disability, yes, everything around him falling to pieces, yes, overwhelming odds stacked against him, yes, only he can save the world, yes: it would appear to "tick all the boxes". But no, it does not satisfy me, and it somehow misses the target, and I hate that "boxes" cliché.
The beginning of the book is good, and it might even be plausible, and I wanted to read on. But it was soon obvious that the vulnerable hero would keep on surviving time after time, amazingly, when most others in his situation would have simply died or given up in agony. Then, more seriously, the plot, while initially strong and viable, soon degenerated into a rushed fantasy farce with a complete lack of credibility. If it were not for the violence and gore liberally splattered through the novel, it felt more like a children's tale where belief is easily suspended for the sake of the brightly coloured pictures. Only the good standard of English and the hope of a return to feasibility kept me spinning on through the pages.
I was mostly disappointed because with some more care on the character development and much tighter control on the plot it could actually have been brilliant. I think the author has frittered away a potentially excellent idea by trying to be too sensational. Sadly, I can only award three stars.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I really tried to like it,
I tried to like this, I really did. The setting was good, the tech was believable, the history intriguing. But. But...
Admittedly, I'm only half way through but I'm struggling to stay interested. The incoherent characters are my main gripe: time and time again I'm jarred back into the real world when a character says something totally at odds with how they've been portrayed to that point.
Example: after describing Petrovich's lab partner as a maths genius who is almost totally disconnected from reality - she can spend 12+ hours in a trance-like state doing equations, not eating and even forgetting what day it is - she hands him a gun and says (and this is sadly not a joke): "Don't throw your life away, Sam. Make someone take it from you. Make it expensive." Yikes!
Add to this that the central character (Petrovich) seems to have split personality of naive physics genius and grizzled, violent ex-gang member and all sense of narrative 'flow' vanishes.
The author's editor should have addressed a lot of these issues in early drafts. A real shame.
EDIT: Finished it eventually. It didn't improve...
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Only okay - some nice prose, but overall a disappointing story,
It's a shame because I found that the story was well written, but let down, bizarrely, by a lack of imagination.
I found myself thinking 'give it a rest' each time the main character, Petrovitch, swore in Russian and each time Simon Morden made a reference. Apart from the explicit 'Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope' Star Wars reference there are a number of other references to science fiction stories, games or films such as 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy', 'Dr Who', '2001: A Space Odyssey', Sega's 'Zero Wing' and even the 'Italian Job'. I'm not sure if Morden did this on purpose to be 'post-modern' or his influences just bled through, either way it spoils the suspension of disbelief necessary to thoroughly enjoy his story.
Apart from the fact that Petrovitch is a Russian in London (a 'Stranger in a Strange Land' even) and has a dicky ticker which seems always to be threatening to give out on him but never actually does, it is all very derivative of other sci-fi tales and computer games. I don't mind if writers repeat themes, you only have to watch 'Dr Who' to realise that most areas of sci-fi have already been done, but like 'Dr Who' the trick should be to 'tweak' these themes in a novel way that hasn't been explored before.
This lack of originality came to a head for me when the main character finds himself in a room with a load of computers, what looks like a dentist chair and a cable with a spike on the end and proceeded to stick it in the back of his neck and enter a virutal Tokyo. This was far too close to the inside of the Nebakanezer and what happens in 'The Matrix' for my liking.
I also had a problem with the large, Manga 'mecha' influenced, mechanical monsters that pop up towards the end and trash future London, with no explanation of how a virtual entity could create these things in the real world. I found it was almost a step too far. But by that point I was already numb from the train wreck scene and then there's also a scene where a drone crashes into the side of a building. I've read about or seen all these things before and it felt like he was throwing scenes in just for the shocks (of which there are very few).
Points of interest / originality for me were the university mathematical research side of things and the bodygaurd Nun - both sub-plots were worthy of further development but seemed to fall by the wayside of the writer's fan-boy indulgences. Maybe the the other two books currently in the series will develop the characters more, but I won't be reading them.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my best discoveries of latter years,
Petrovitch, for all his unpleasantness, is a truly lovable main character. If you're into stuff like early Gibson and Stephenson, you'll probably like this a lot. High pace, lots of suspense and action and good, solid writing.
4.0 out of 5 stars A great read... but not a classic.,
Read this in paperback rather than kindle (shock horror). Its actually my wife's book and she said I would enjoy it (she bought it based on reviews in Interzone magazine). And she was right! It's a fast paced, action pack romp through a post apocalyptic London with a variety of interesting (if somewhat stereotypical) characters. The setting is described well enough (but starts to lose definition in the last quarter as the pace heats up) and everything holds to some degree of logical consistency.
After I finished my first thought was 'when is the film coming out'. I can see it now... Robert Carlyle as Petrovich, Robbie Coltrane as Marchenko, Sandra Bullock as Maddie, Pauley Perrette as Pif, Kristin Kreuk as Sonja, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa as Oshicora, Terry Crews as Chains....
If you expect haute-couture, this isn't it. But if you are in the mood for some good, escapist, cyberpunk fun then I highly recommend this book. Looking forward to reading the second installment!
5.0 out of 5 stars You should read this series.,
A good read! ignore the following...Great product, very useful - fast delivery as always - it does what it says on the tin - ta
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Equations of Life (Samuil Petrovitch Novels Book 1) by Simon Morden