Top positive review
Three separate story threads in alternating chapters, each very different and beautifully told. A joy to read.
on 2 April 2017
The first 3/4 of this book is truly brilliant: Three separate story threads in alternating chapters, each very different and beautifully told. A joy to read.
The thread of Ori, essentially a slave of the ruling class, stationed on "The Whale" space platform above a gas giant planet, and working on the 10km tall platform to mine gases and metals from the planet below. McAuley brings his wonderfully descriptive prose to the construction-visualisation of the planet and the mining operation, and fleshes out this protagonist beautifully.
The thread of The Librarian is superb cyberpunk and space-opera, almost fantasy spell-casting in the digital world, an end-point of cyber-virtual-reality. The science and "code terminology" are wonderful, the best I have seen anywhere. The pacing is astoundingly good, a delightful chase and mystery rolled into one, with a delicious sudden love sub-plot.
And the thread of The Child is brilliant. It fully brings the first three books of The Quiet War into this final book, 1,500 years later and in another planetary system. We are shown the childhood and maturation of Sri Hong-Owen, the gene wizard, in virtual form. It's a wonderful tale of the child genius from her first feelings and science interests, embedded in a near-jungle Brasilia.
All three threads develop beautifully over 3/4 the length of the book, and then begin to combine in the final quarter. This is very well done, but the final pacing is a bit uneven (of necessity, perhaps).
In all of the book, we love and invest in the characters, and McAuley's prose is quite wonderful, rhythmic and superbly literate. The hard science is as good as it gets (withholding disbelief of course).
McAuley's work often includes a page or three of philosophy, underpinning the lives of his characters perfectly. I loved these parts of the book as they were spare and concise. See my updates below.
Highest recommendation, for the entire Quiet War series, of which books 1, 2, and 3 (this) are the best.
3.0% ... Lyrical, eloquent, poignant, beautiful first chapter. So wonderful to read this
13.0% ... Paul McAuley is truly a writer of the first calibre. I encourage you all to discover especially his Quiet War series, of which this is the fourth book
37.0% ..... quotation: "But later in her life, whenever she thought of her mother and the things her mother had taught her, she always recalled that moment. It was the archetype of many such moments. So lives are shaped backwards, by what we choose to remember."
0.0% .... the cyberpunk hacking language here is the best I have ever seen. Delicious! (Note, I have been a first class programmer since I was 16 in 1969)
55.0% .... who knows what a "strange attractor"? Anyone? Awesome! .... quotation: "New recruits were also bad luck, according to the pilots. They were strange attractors that generated all kinds of chaos that was best kept way out front, away from everyone else."
80.0% ... Wow. Estoteric, what! ...quotation: "some place colder than absolute zero: a region of negative energy where atoms had not merely stopped moving, but had lost all integrity and shrivelled into the strings that composed their basic particles, and the strings themselves had frozen and ceased singing."