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4.2 out of 5 stars
Angel Stations
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 16 January 2008
Angel Stations: artifacts found around the galaxy that permit faster than light travel between them by travelling through the singularity it creates. These ancient structures were created by the Angels, a long gone race that have left many other interesting things throughout the stars. One of the Angel Stations is found in the oort cloud of our system and allows humanity to travel to other stations that are discovered.

Through these gateways another sentient race is discover on the planet Kasper, a dog-like race that is still in it's iron age. It is on this planet that the Citadel is discovered, a vast Angel built structure that has many, many secrets. However, with the discovery by some that a deadly radiation front is coming out from the centre of the galaxy, the Citadel could hold the answer to stopping it before it wipes out Kasper's inhabitants.

Kim is a pilot, travelling around the outer Kaspian system in her Goblin making a living any way she can. Troubled by her past, when she was the leader of an expedition to the Citadel and a terrible accident occurred, one that she still blames herself for. Her lover, Susan, was lost in this accident and Kim now re-lives the memories that Susan recorded. Susan was an observer, making recordings onto 'books', a way for others to experience what she does.

Eilias is an ex-soldier, one that volunteered for genetic experiments to be performed on him using Angel information that was discovered. He can sometimes see the future, although not very clearly. He is pursuing Trencher, an old friend whose precognitive abilities are by far the most powerful known. Trencher is also the result of experiments, but experiments that were performed on his unborn embryo, along with his two brothers.

Ursu is a native Kaspian, a member of one of their churches who worship the god Shecumpeh and treasure an antique statue believing it houses the god. When the emperor of the biggest nation on Kasper starts tracking down the gods of each of the churches, believing he can fulfill a legend, Ursu must escape with the antique and ensure it never falls into the hands of the emperor. He begins a journey, unknowing to him it is one that could save his planet.

This is Gary Gibson's first published novel, and it includes some very big ideas. What I've mentioned above is only a brief description of the overall story, it contains many more threads and subplots, each of which all join together as the story progresses. The characters are quite well developed, but there is always that feeling of wanting a little more developement, perhaps a little more back story on some of the characters, although this doesn't spoil the novel by any means.

On the whole, this is a very enjoyable read, although I found the early sections to be a little lacking, especially the ones about Ursu, our native Kaspian. The general feel of the book was slightly uneven and it never really got to the point where I couldn't put it down, although it was getting much better in the last third.

In general, what I've read in Angel Stations will encourage me to go on and read both Against Gravity and Stealing Light (which I've heard some particularly good things about). Although this isn't quite up there with the big selling space operas, Gary has certainly shown that that's where he's aiming for and if he carries on the way he's started he'll be there in no time.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 February 2014
In the distant future, mankind has the ability to explore the stars, thanks to the discovery hundreds of years before of Angel technology. These Angel gates were left behind by an alien race long since vanished from the known universe. They allow ships to move from one to another across enormous expanses of space, leading to the establishment of stations around the gates, inhabited by traders, explorers and entrepreneurs. But despite the opportunities opened up to humankind, it has yet to find another world to replace the one it has damaged perhaps irreparably. Except for Kaspar.

Kaspar is a very distant planet, only just released from the grip of an Ice Age, but it is inhabited by the only known sentient aliens, a doglike race living an almost medieval existence, fighting wars, obeying religious laws, caring for their families, in complete ignorance of what else might share their planet. For on it is the Citadel, a mysterious and extremely strange Angel structure, which is studied by the humans who live on the Angel Station above, sending down secret missions into the Citadel. It is decreed, for now, that this planet must be left to the Kaspians but that doesn't stop it, and the powerful Alien technology that can be found there, from being an irresistible temptation to the men and women who watch from its orbit or plot from an overcrowded, dying Earth.

Angel Stations, the first novel by Gary Gibson, is a wonder. It is packed full to the brim with ideas and these ideas vary from being completely captivating to tantalisingly elusive. Above all else, they build a universe that I was eager to explore even though, in 400 pages, there was never going to be enough time for every question to be answered. For a start, three of our main protagonists are almost unknowable, having been altered at a very basic level by alien technology. They may appear to be men, or brothers, but there is nothing natural about Sam, Vaughn and Trencher beyond their capacity to feel pain or to scheme. Much is revealed about them as the novel continues but their similarity to gods is clear from the very beginning when we watch San, tortured, repeatedly pushing an enormous rock out of a canyon, Sisyphus reborn.

Even our more recognisably human characters aren't quite what they seem. Elias, an ex-soldier, and Kim, a pilot, are tainted by Angel technology and are driven by their own demons, all of which are shown to us in horrifying detail, but both come together in a common purpose that drives forward much of the novel. In parallel with this is the story of two native inhabitants of Kaspar, one of whom is in possession of an idol of a god that somehow speaks to him and tells him to return it to a special place - the Citadel. If he doesn't manage it, the cost could be catastrophic for his planet.

The narrative moves around at quite a pace, shifting from character to character, from world to world, dropping clues, following threads and repeatedly throwing new wonders into the mix. As a result, I could not put Angel Stations down. There are so many memorable moments - I have to mention the plague of little metal bugs. My only issue - and it seems a ridiculous issue - is that there is just so much to take in. I would have welcomed a novel twice the size.

Gary Gibson is such a fine writer and it's not surprising reading Angel Stations, his first novel, that Gibson is now one of my very favourite authors. With strong characters (male, female and alien), an inventive and fascinating plot, and a compulsively pageturning narrative, I cannot praise Angel Stations enough.
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on 27 April 2010
Other people have covered the storyline so I'll be brief and describe how I felt about the book. It's too long. This story should have been done in half the pages. Good ideas but the bits I was really interested in were not developed. I think if this author can keep the ideas coming and refine the storytelling then he'll produce some really good work.
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It took me while to keep track of all the cast in this adventure, shades of dark and demon like people, brilliant aliens, and a great understanding of human nature, I love this writer, a new author for me to add to my list, up there with Alistair Reynolds and Neil Asher.
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on 25 December 2007
Tolerably good although the man has a ways to go to establish himself in the first rank. Some cool ideas (probably too many), but dodgy characterization, and plenty of loose ends. If you've exhausted the REALLY good stuff, may be worth giving it a whirl.
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on 31 October 2009
A really good book which due to the complexity of the story takes a little starting. However, it's a fascinating journey and quite original in places.

Quite comparable quality to "Stealing Light" and a good read.
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on 28 July 2013
A bit outside my preferred type of science fiction, but a good read with plenty of action. Bought on Kindle to save on bookshelf space. Don't think I'd read again though.
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on 3 December 2013
It takes a while to get into this story as there are so many characters set in time and location. However it gets itself together and ends well. Not a bad read.
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on 31 July 2014
read this again many years after I first read it and also after reading a number of other Gary Gibson books. A very interesting storyline and worth reading.
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on 27 July 2013
The story was a bit complicated but all was resolved in the end. I am a keen reader of Gary Gibson and love his imagination.
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