To Hold Infinity Paperback – 2 Apr 1998
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John Meaney's short stories in Interzone magazine gave him a reputation in SF circles for being highly promising. The promise is fulfilled in his debut novel To Hold Infinity, which has all the authentic flash and dazzle of cutting-edge SF. It's set on a colony world whose aristocracy of "Luculenti" are genuinely superior to the common herd, thanks to built-in brain enhancements which provide all-senses net communication and multi- tasking processing power. The implications are nicely explored, with characters manipulating the market and buying/selling companies during fleeting pauses in conversation. An utterly hissable serial-killer villain exploits fellow-Luculenti's permanent Net links to assimilate their minds using vampire software and steal their add-ons for himself--his mind is multiplied by hundreds of these "extra brains", while the legal limit is three. Others sense that something's wrong, and tough heroine Sunadomari Yoshiko from primitive old Earth becomes entangled in the invisible, multi-levelled struggle for people's souls. When the now megalomaniac killer goes too far in public, the hunt is on and Yoshiko will be the bait ... The book glows with biological and nanotechnological wonders, strange weapons and surprising perspectives. It is deservedly shortlisted for the 1999 British SF Association Award. --David Langford
From the Back Cover
Devastated by her husband's death, Earth-based biologist Yoshiko Sunadomari journeys to the paradise world of Fulgar to see her estranged son in the hope of bridging the gulf between them.
But Tetsuo is in trouble. His expertise in mu-space tech and family links with the mysterious Pilots have ensured his survival. So far. Now he's in way over his head - unwittingly caught up in a conspiracy of illegal tech-trafficking and corruption, and in the sinister machinations of one of Fulgar's ruling elite: the charismatic Luculentus, Rafael Garcia de la Vega. When his home is attacked, Tetsuo flees to the planet's unterraformed wastes, home to society's outcasts and eco-terrorists.
So Yoshiko arrives on Fulgar to discover Tetsuo gone...and wanted for murder. Ill at ease in this strange, stratified new world seething with social and political unrest but desperate to find her son and clear his name, she embarks on a course of action that will bring her face to face with the awesome, malevolent mind of Rafael...
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Top Customer Reviews
But (and it's a big but), the book is absolutely awful on three counts:
1. Characters. The characters are paper think cardboard cut-out Japanese types, with all the standard names (Akira? Ken? Ryu? - Streetfighter 2 was a major inspiration source?) and the standard trappings of Western ideas of what the future Japanese would be like. The main protagonist is a samurai warrior woman, for example, lonely but noble on a quest. Nothing new there then. And the main antagonist is evil evil evil, right down to his cold black heart. There's no real insight into the characters' minds, just the things that they say to themselves. They also have very little by way of interesting dialogue. In what could have been a promising setup for the cyberpunk-style debate on the future, what we have instead is a poorly scripted action adventure. If this story had been in the hands of Iain Banks, for example, then you would have seen much more character depth.
2. Plot. The story is really really jaded. There's this bad guy character (Raphael), who has "vampire code" that basically lets him eat other people's brains. He's sort of a cartoonish American Psycho of the future, self indulgent, but one of those characters that thinks through his evils on the page so the reader can see them. In otherwords, he's irritating as hell to read.
Then there is the story of the samurai woman on the hunt for her missing son, Testuo (Kaneda. Akira!Read more ›
One of the nicest realizations of the cyberpunk/post cyberpunk genre I've come across, basically the story of an evil genius who goes around killing off the elite and doing very nasty things with their minds.
The balance was just right, with no theme overpowering any other. The tech was interesting, without getting annoying, as often happens in this kind of novel.
There are some extremely evocative pieces of haiku on the chapter headings that give the book a really interesting flavour.
The prose style was completely transparent, with no irritating writer-tricks to bring you back to reality. The dialogue was excellent, too. People spoke realistically, with contractions and the occasional "Err..."
The exposition was also nicely handled, simple direct explanations, with no irritating maid-to-butler sessions a la Stephen Baxter.
Reasons it lost the fifth crown:
A lot of this has already been done in 'Aristoi', by Walter Jon Williams
The plot was a little busy for my taste, two shades more contemplation and a few hard decision would mave made it almost perfect.
Also, the plot could have been a little more interwoven, I found the whole series of events just a little too simple. Of course, a sequel could build on this very nicely indeed...
All in all, I heartily recommend it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Awful, awful awful.
Love sci fi, but not this. Weak characters, hackneyed plot and appalling prose. Need I say more?
Judging by the number of his books that are out of print (including this one), Meaney has not yet been recognised as (in my opinion) one of the greatest living Science Fiction... Read morePublished on 13 Sept. 2011 by Dung
Well, what can I say. John, if you are reading this, then for a JAVA trainer, you make a pretty good sci-fi author. Read morePublished on 12 July 2001 by firstname.lastname@example.org
A really fresh approach and enjoyable enough to read twice - I look forward to the next one!Published on 27 Nov. 2000 by email@example.com