Top positive review
Great but not perfect - recommended all the same
3 June 2015
I like Paul McAuley's work - which I first encountered in the form of Fairyland, some years ago - and 'Little Machines' is one of my absolute favourite short story collections. That said, I wasn't enormously taken with 'The Quiet War' and it's occasional leanings towards 'boo-hiss' villains. It was a convincing piece of world-building, though, and well-written.
However, 'Something Coming Through' I enjoyed far more. Again, though, it is not without its weaknesses: Under-developed/explored bad guys with a tendency to look like they've just taken a sneering class at central casting, one or two obvious character trajectories and the sort of protagonist with a tendency to getting themselves into trouble, through an utter lack of basic guile and ability to see beyond their obsessions which simultaneously annoys me as a reader, but does a great job of moving plot forward. All of these things niggled as I was reading the novel, but none of them were deal-breakers and again, the world of 'Something Coming Through' is compelling and believable with lots of deft touches and seemingly throw-away details that, in fact, make it a rich piece of story-telling. I shan't expand on the plot beyond any blurb provided by Amazon/the publishers, except to say that the universe of the Jackaroo has featured in other writings of McAuley's (including a great standalone short story you can buy for pennies for your kindle). 'Mysterious alien benefactors' has been done more times than I can count, but McAuley executes the idea with much originality and skill. I look forward to learning much more about the Jackaroo and their motives in future books.