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Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
The Patterns of Chaos
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 8 September 2013
I first read Colin Kapp's 'The Patterns of Chaos' way back in my late teens and had never expected to find it in print again... but happily like a number of other old science fiction books it has been resurrected, in this case as part of a Gollancz programme. I approached it with some trepidation in case it had survived the years less well than I, but in fact it still reads very well. The main technology drawback is that like so many other people of the time (early 1970s), Colin could not conceive that computers would have any means of input other than keyboards, nor output other than reams of paper. So the otherwise highly advanced devices used to calculate starship trajectories through both space and subspace, identify and trace causes of tiny ripples in entropy, track weapon sources and targets across enormous distances, and so on, are forever producing vast hand-outs from printer or plotter. No spoken input or visual output here!

Of course that is a secondary issue. At the heart of this book is a fascinating question. If as a rule entropy (the tendency of the universe to become disordered) increases, but we know that the efforts of intelligence can make it decrease - are there particular individuals who can make this happen more dramatically? Is it possible for some people to interpret or intuit the patterns of chaos more accurately, and so shape events more dramatically and purposefully? What would it be like to be around such a person?

Colin has made a valiant and credible attempt to tackle these questions, all wrapped up in a complex political and military plot on a very large scale. What seems at first to be a straightforward exercise to infiltrate a commando into an enemy base turns out to have much deeper and more sinister causes. We follow alongside the commando (Bron) throughout the book, but key information is withheld from us as readers by the device of him having lost his memory shortly before the action commences. It's a bit artificial, but it does mean that we learn the real significance of events at the same time that Bron does.

It's an exciting read, and one I was very happy to revisit, but I don't think I can give it five stars. The technology, and the very interesting philosophical issues raised by questions about entropy, considerably outweigh the human dimensions. There's is little character development (other than the steady recovery of memory), and the consistent style of sticking with Bron's perspective means that we get no real chance to see the world through the eyes of others. Nowadays I prefer more variety of viewpoint, and find this aspect of 'The Patterns of Chaos' a little disappointing. However, as an example of good science fiction writing by a British author, it is well worth the read. Four stars from me.
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on 2 June 2012
When I read this book for the first time (together with "The Chaos Weapon" by the same author), I was probably 10-12 years old (mind you, this is not a "children" book but a pure classic SF). Many years later, I couldn't remember the title or the author (of both books), but I have always remembered the story (once in a while, you just read a story that - for whatever reason - simply stays with you for many years, and for me, this was it). Took me a while to figure out what the title was and later to track it down.

The main plot is based on a fictional science (the study of the entropic patterns of Chaos), which allows predictions of events with an accuracy that was not possible before. The main character Bron (who at the beginning cannot remember anything about himself) is send to a planet where he is hoping to find out the coordinates and location of a rival space fleet and base (he has also been given implants through which a monitoring team can see what he sees, hear what he hears and talk to him). The core story starts from that point, and as the cover of the book states: "But Bron's own brand of "chaos" is lethally unpredictable. And when whole planets are annihilated by monster bombs, set on course 700 million years ago from the distant Andromeda galaxy, aimed directly at Bron himself, both sides realise that something more colossal, more threatening and more powerful is taking hand in Bron's destiny...".

This is pure SF from the 1974, a solid combination of a classic space opera and partly some philosophical themes. Even though the character development is not very deep here (but it is also not "basic") and the story itself it not very complex - it is still a very enjoyable read. I would say that, for me, the flow and the pace of the story are a little bit similar to the flow of story from "Starship Troopers" by Robert Heinlein (to put in simple terms, this is an easy read) - but of course the story itself and the underlying meaning is quite different here (or maybe I'm not very objective here, as it took me a long time to find this book and I did enjoy reading it again).

Anyway, this a recommended read for any fan of entertaining (and a little bit philosophical) space opera from the 1970s. A long time ago, when I was younger, this would easily be a 5 stars review, but today its very solid 4.
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on 24 February 2014
Colin Kapp is a seriously underrated author IMHO, this, and his "Unorthodox Engineers" short stories are brilliantly entertaining and thought-provoking. The characterisation may not be outstanding, but the ideas are. I have had two copies of this book on my shelves for years in case one got "borrowed" by one of my friends. Now I have the Kindle version, I can free up some shelf space. This is one of the few SF books I re-read from time to time, such is my affection for it.
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on 23 July 2017
First read this back in the seventies and remembered the trigger used in the book ... always wanted to re read it but had lost my original copy glad I could find it again
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on 30 May 2014
I first read this book in the 1970's and In my humble opinion it has stood the test of time very well. Combining elements of Space Opera with a 700 million year old mystery its a fast moving story that would make great Hollywood film with Bruce Willis in the lead role.
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on 5 February 2016
I read the story first time many years ago, but it didn't age, it's a good at, full of action and interesting turns as well as good science problems. Enjoy!
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on 4 April 2013
I read this forty years ago when a teenager and saw it on Kindle by chance. I had to revisit my yoof and was delighted to find it as refreshing, quirkty and entertaining as it was back in the 70s. Great fun
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on 2 February 2016
An old favourite book, found again on Kindle. A good fun read with some interesting twists and turns.
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on 11 March 2013
Read this book years ago. Found it a great read, glad to have found it on amazon as it is no longer found in shops.
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