Customer Review

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent but all over the place, 6 Dec 2011
This review is from: Daylight on Iron Mountain: Chung Kuo Book 2 (Kindle Edition)
David Wingrove wrote the Chung Kuo series of eight science-fiction novels in the late eighties/nineties. Now he is apparently rewriting them, and has added two prequels, published in 2011, Son of Heaven and now Daylight on Iron Mountain.
These prequels sit very firmly within the "future history" sub-genre. Son of Heaven was a drama in three acts, dealing with the aftermath of a digital apocalypse, the catastrophe itself, and finally the triumph of its Chinese initiators.

This second novel picks up where its predecessors left off and is split more or less equally between the now dominant Pei Ching - based elite, and the lives of the main protagonists of the earlier novel Jake Reed and his family and friends.
As the book opens, the ruling despot T'sao Chun is faced with rebellion in the Middle East as he prepares his final assault on a divided America, lead by honourable poet-general Jiang Li and Caucasian adviser and computer genius Amos Shepherd.
The book covers a 20 year period. On a micro level Jake firstly sees an opportunity to regain a former life and then, bizarrely and possibly uniquely in a science fiction novel, gets involved in a dispute about his pension rights. On a macro level the book deals firstly with the final, brutal triumph of Tsao Chun, and then with conflict between him and his closest allies.

On a plus side, this is a close to being character driven as any science fiction. Jake and his family are real, believable people, with credible human reactions to the extraordinary world around them. Also, where the third act of the first novel was its weakest part, here as the war between Tsao Chun and his advisers reaches its height, it is the most thrilling. Finally, as with much great science fiction, this deals with contemporary issues. Pension rights is a rather bizarre one, but more interestingly, Wingrove looks at the role and fate of a tyrant, with T'sao Chun seen as a necessary means to an end but who runs the very real risk of becoming a Sadam/Gadaffi like figure. Also interesting and very relevant is the role of capitalism in an autocratic Chinese society.

On the downside, the scope of the novel is just too wide, and many story lines are either left to peter out or are left inadequately explored. To be cruel, the plot of the novel is all over the place, a bit of a mess. The conflict in the Middle East, Jakes attempts to rebuild his former life, his son Peter's career, Jiang Li's conquest of America, are just some of the themes which feel inadequately explored.

At the end of the day, this is intelligent science fiction, and as such is worthwhile, but it does have the feel of being a transitory novel within a series, rather than being a coherent standalone work. It is a reasonable sequel to Son of Heaven. Whether its position in the ultimate rewritten series atones for its faults remains to be seen.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines ">here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.2 out of 5 stars (17 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (10)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:
 (3)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
£1.79
Add to wishlist
Reviewer

P. G. Harris
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   

Top Reviewer Ranking: 638