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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Your New Ontology, 5 Dec 2009
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This review is from: Chasing the Dragon: Quantum Gravity Book Four (Hardcover)
This is the fourth book in the Quantum Gravity series. You have to read the previous books ('Keeping It Real', 'Selling Out' and 'Going Under') to have any chance of making sense of this one.

It is fifty Otopian (Earth) years since the end of 'Going Under'. What in Faery would have been a year and a day, as Lila bargained, has wrought huge changes. Sarasilien has disappeared, Zal is nowhere to be found, only Teazle and Malachi, initially, seem to be pretty much as they were. Lila, although human, has been changed; metal elementals have broken down the boundary between her flesh and her cyborg implants. There is a lot to fix.

That's the start. From there, the whole novel turns into something pretty extraordinary. I have to say that I think this is far and away the best book of the series so far. It is dark, brooding, very well written with many powerful and evocative metaphors and classic one-liners. It almost defines its own genre.

Initially, the series seemed a bit 'The Lord of the Rings' meets 'Terminator' but slowly the books have evolved into a sort of exploration of alternate dimensions (the realms of Faery, Alfheim, Demonia and the rest) phase-shifts in reality, 'magic' that is based on manipulation of Superstrings and the Quantum Foam. In places, it reads more like Michio Kaku.

And slowly the books have been stripping away the layers of 'reality' to try and find a base, a starting point, almost a big bang. Metaphorical creatures and places abound - besides elves, faeries and demons, we have angels, the Three Sisters, Thanatopia (and death is not quite what it appears to be), the Void, Under, dragons and Mother Night. Even half-machine human Lila is in touch with The Signal, her own 'Akasha' (from Wicki: 'the Sanskrit word meaning "aether" in both its elemental and mythological senses...is the omnipresent incontrovertible transcendent eternal source of all energy, the realm of promise, potential, paths to be walked and the primal source that creates and nourishes the other four elements...').

Slipping between these dimensions/realms/realities, sometimes without much warning, this book can be hard to figure, to nail down. It is really pretty trippy in places, reminding me both of Jeff Noon and 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland', even 'Time Bandits' and 'Hellboy 2'.

Still, overall, you do empathise with these creatures, you do get involved in their trippy worlds and that is partly because of the story but also because of the writing. Justina Robson's writing is tight, clear, precise and highly evocative. There are some great characters here - besides Lila, Malachi, Teazle and Zal, there's the tragic human strandloper Calliope Jones, the remarkable cheroot smoking, bourbon drinking Glinda, the curious Mr V, even the relatively mundane Temple Greer - who all add depth and purpose. And then there's Tatterdemalion...can you call a dress a 'character'? Apparently so.

It is not a light read. You need to keep your wits about you as scenes change midway through sentences, characters change midway through scenes, but hang in there, it's worth it. And it's a truly worthy addition to the series.

Thanks again Justina!
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Jan 2010 08:17:13 GMT
D. Harris says:
Good review.

I shied away from writing one of this, just didn't feel up to it. I found this volume very enjoyable, it was clear from the end of vol 3 that the whole series had shifted up a gear and it didn't disappoint. Think I need to reread the whole series though before the next.

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2010 10:22:19 GMT
Diziet says:
There are so many layers to this, now that we're up to four volumes, that I think you are right.

I forget to mention that this volume is about 100 pages longer than the previous three. Still looking forward to the next. :-)

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jan 2010 13:33:52 GMT
D. Harris says:
Yes, roll on 18th November! Untitled Robson 2 of 2

Posted on 3 Feb 2010 10:30:29 GMT
Last edited by the author on 3 Feb 2010 10:32:21 GMT
Sam Woodward says:
Blimey, sounds totally insania! Am gonna have to check this series out! After all, you can't have enough ontologies (unless you're Buddha)

In reply to an earlier post on 3 Feb 2010 13:17:46 GMT
Diziet says:
LOL! You sarky old so-and-so!

Hey - if you're into multiple cosmos's (or cosmi), you should try Anathem.
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