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The Beauty of Destruction Paperback – 21 Jan 2016
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The Beauty of Destruction is a brutal barnburner that ends an amazing trilogy; it's raw and violent yet it's also brilliant piece of work. (The Book Beard Blog)
This a very readable, fantastical romp across the past, present and future. Well recommended. (Upcoming 4 Me)
Gavin Smith's writing is a brutal kaleidoscope of imagination, with the raw energy of a heavy metal album cover: equally dazzling with bloodthirsty ancient Picts and the fallen post-humans of tomorrow. (Hannu Rajaniemi, author of The Causal Angel)
Age Of Scorpio announces loud and clear that in Gavin Smith an exceptional talent has arrived to uplift SF. The book is a master class of twisting plot lines that celebrate both the weird and astounding, amid a future that's deeply unnerving yet equally compelling. (Peter F Hamilton)
In the past, present and future, humanity is under attack from a mysterious dark power. The invasion reaches its shattering conclusion in this epic space opera.See all Product description
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I wrote about my love of a few characters in previous reviews. I was very happy to read about these characters further. I feel like a few of these characters could have a collection of immersion short stories and I would purchase that just because the character actions in any situation would be appealing to me :-)
Overall the series did a good job of world building without info dumping. That is not to suggest that nothing could be construed in that way, since people can perceive the same information different, but for me this was well executed.
These days I personally lean towards short stories, partly due to how busy I feel I am. So the page count matters to me, thankfully I felt the page usage was good. With so much going on, and the three different time periods being constantly updated, there was a lot to cram in. At no point did it feel like padding, because I trusted the plot arc, and when a few minor characters were followed in the series it did relate to the overall story.
The book has the best usage of a Mexican standoff I have come across in a while.
The ending … hmm. Avoiding spoilers, it was different, but importantly not totally unexpected from the point of view of character development and discussions about how to handle things. I liked it, I felt it worked, and whilst it could be written a multitude of ways it seemed not just appropriate, but also tying in to the series’ overall theme about social engineering.
In summary I felt the story line was great, exceptional even, and I really enjoyed reading the series, hence 5 stars and not 4 or 3.
It fails to get a 5 star rating because ultimately it's a little empty nothing but scene after scene of ultra violence only slightly redeemed by the non-violent ending although I suspect it may leave those who stayed engaged waiting for a bout of super ultra violence that never comes. A harsher critic may even feel the ending is a little lame.
I would recommend a re-read of the first 2 novels as I'm somewhat puzzled by some dangling threads : such as
1. what was the black oily stuff at the end.
2. What were the crystal parasites.
3. Who gave Beth her powers in Portsmouth?
4. What happened to the Brass City?
5. What was the point of the Lodup and Silas Scab POV characters from book 2.
Mostly these are minor niggles, but for me I can't help feeling there was a better 2 book series inside that needed to be created by better editing and removing some identikit unnecessary characters.
The door is definitely still open for sequels, spin offs and sideshows. The writer has created some wonderful characters and a fascinatingly twisted universe.
Overall this is a fitting book to end the trilogy with however, and this is quite a big however, there are moments in this book where I skim read. Specifically the "Now" sections, previously possibly the best sections, by the last 100 pages I was a bit bored of reading about their hardened armoured skin blah blah blah. I was looking for answers from this section, to tie together the past and future into the present - a context more understandable and relatable for the common reader. And yes there were some answers granted but also some gaping omissions and even a random deus ex machine when our favourite psycho turns up as a dog hybrid thing.
I know, or think I know, that the author kept things quite cryptic on purpose but I would have liked more moments towards the end where everything came together coherently - more "ahhhh" moments basically. As to the end, initially I was not impressed but actually on reflection it was quite clever.
Anyway, in summary, you may think from the above that I didn't enjoy the books hugely but I did, they were excellent. The author has a vivid imagination and for somebody who understands physics and metaphysics as-well as nano technology, some of the tech in these books is not as far fetched as some may imagine (and of course some is so far fetched its crazy, but in a good way). They are well written and the some of the characters are brilliant, I would dearly love spin offs as there is plenty of scope for them and still plenty to answer / expand upon.
In conclusion I thoroughly enjoyed these books and everyone I have convinced to read them is also enjoying them. Yes it is crazy. Yes it is graphically violent and vulgar. Yes it is nihilistic but also Yes it is optimistic too, both dystopian and utopian depending on your philosophical state and with protagonists to root for whatever your predilection. Yes it is shambolic at times. Yes its utterly contemptible but also utterly laudable. This is where it excels - for something so "out there" it, to me, reveals so much about humanity, hope, faith, greed - us and the world, a masterful story that makes a point about life without ever once preaching. So. Yes. It, Is. Awesome
It's high concept, which I like, but there's so much of the book where for me nothing of note is going on and I ended up skimming quite a considerable part of it, which I hate to do. A shame really because when the action does 'hot up' Gavin G. Smith can hold his own with the best of them.
I feel a huge void left by Iain M Banks, and although this isn't one of my favorite books I've read, it's good to know that there is still some real Sci-fi talent out there.