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Jack Glass Kindle Edition
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The first part is a prison story. A group of convicts are marooned on an asteroid for seven years. They must make it habitable or they will die.
The second introduces two teenage girls, the putative heirs to the Clan Argent. Diane and Eva are the result of advanced genetic engineering (we may suspect, but never learn for sure, that Alice, Beth and Carol before them may not have come up to scratch...) There is perhaps a touch of Dune here - the Argents jostle with a number of other clans for a position immediately below the ruling Ulanovs but above a mass of guilds, commercial concerns and mafias. Treachery and violence is always distinctly possible.
The third part follows closely from the second and could be described as a locked room mystery (but so could the others as well). It does bring together themes from the book as a whole, and it provides some answers (although I don't think we ever learn who the man was running through the olive grove in the heat of the day (or why he was running) in part 2).
"Jack Glass" does, in some respects, pick up themes from last year's By Light Alone. I'm thinking especially of the sort-of post-scarcity setting - in Jack Glass, there is no shortage of room - humanity has populated space with flimsy sphere habitations - or of food - most people exist on spore grown "ghunk" fed by sunlight. But, as in the earlier book, it's far from being a utopia: the poor live flavourless lives, subsisting on the basics and very definitely at the bottom of the heap.
Another resemblance is in characters. As in "By Light", "Jack Glass" has as its main protagonists (apart from Jack himself) a couple of rather spoiled, privileged teenage girls. Roberts has some fun creating a plausible future teen-speak ("No wavey way!") which is only one example of his ingenious use of language in the book - the preface, for example introduces the verb "to doctorwatson". Some of the invented terms are explained in an appendix, which also serves as a short primer to 26th century society. This is a rigid hierarchy, with the Ulanovs at the top and the Sump at the bottom.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, though very slightly less than I did By Light Alone, mainly because I found most of part 2 rather slow in pace, especially after the dramatic end to part 1. Having said that, considering it as a single book, it's really very good and fun SF and well worth reading, whether you've read Roberts before or not.
Summary of the Book (Spoilers/:D):
This is the (partial) story of Jack Glass or Iago (his name for most of this story). AR introduces this story as a three part story, a prison break, a 'whodunnit' and a locked room mystery. This is exactly what you get, three separate events intertwined by science story writing at its best.
The prison break part of this story sets a particular scene, for both the main character/story and for AR's writing style. The first 100 pages follows a prisoner named 'Jac' who is sent to an asteroid out in our solar system to serve his sentence with six fellow prisoners. Their job during this sentence is to mine the surface of the asteroid for a big merchant company, during the planning of this task a hierarchy forms of which 'Jac' and a fellow prisoner called 'Gordius' are at the bottom.
Though 'Jac' has to face the difficulties of being trapped with other hardened criminals he still manages to put together a plan and escape his prison and vanish. The events on this asteroid set a certain scene for this novel that dissipates quite quickly as AR quickly moves on to the second story in this novel.
The next chunk of the story is set on a future earth and focuses on a young lady in her mid teens. Diana is the daughter of the leaders of clan 'Argent' one of five royal clans that rule the solar system. Diana and her sister Eva are sent to earth and during this stay Diana is put to work to solve a murder mystery that had taken place in the servants quarters.
This part of the story is largely forgettable and really is used to set in place other story elements that will come into play later on in the 3rd part of this book. As Diana's theories come together on who had killed the servant and how; the sisters are chased from their home the Ulanov's the highest power in the solar system. The sisters are separated and Diana is sent on the run with Iago who by this point is revealed to be the infamous 'Jack Glass'.
Jack reveals that the Ulanovs are searching for FTL technology (Faster-than-light) that his friend had created but in a crisis of conscience hid from everyone as he believed it would bring about the end of their world. This is part of the story where the science fiction writing is superb and I really got stuck in to the story.
The final adventure in this story is a locked room mystery, and a great one too!!
The light version is that Jack, Diana and five others are in a room with one exit, no one is armed and no one intends to hurt each other due to an agreement to surrender, but the arresting officer ends up vaporised and no one in the room knows what happened. It is a great addition to the story and the only downside of it really is that it highlights a great relationship between Jack Glass and Bar Le Duc. I enjoyed this relationship and I wished there was more of it.
AR is honest in the 'Acknowledgements' section of this book, where he says its more of a detective novel than a science fiction piece. This is a shame because AR is such an enjoyable SF writer and I was left wanting more, but that is just me and other people may find it was just enough.
An enjoyable science fiction/detective story which skimps out on the former but maybe that is me being greedy, I haven't gone into the SF elements that are apparent in this story to much as they are best explained in the context of the story.
Please check this out!!
I can't wait to check out AR's other material :D
If you read this and enjoyed the review, there are many more reviews on my blog and in the days to come so please check out my Blog, [...] and im on TWITTER!! @AlwTrustInBooks
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