I've been lax in my reviewing duties. Over the last several months I've read several books and only reviewed one. Last night I finished my latest and finally have taken the time to review it. The book, Iron Sunrise, is actually a sequel to Singularity Sky, which I finished back in December.
Charles Stross is Scottish writer that is very tuned in to the ideas and concepts out there being discussed on the intraweb. He has a good idea how to interleave some of these ideas into traditional science fiction stories while acknowledging the long tradition of space opera style fiction.
In Singularity Sky, Stross introduces us into his universe, in which a artifical intelligence know as the Eschaton has scattered the human race around the local part of the galaxy, creating various civilizations on various planets for some reason unknown to Man.
Stross tosses the reader into the deep end without a lot of exposition as to what exactly is going on. A long term sci-fi reader will likely eat up, but a some may find the jargon hard to follow.
The story basically follows the collision of two cultures and our heroine's attempt to avoid disaster. One of the cultures intends to circumvent the Eschaton's rule on not changing the past. To avoid this, it leads the characters on a merry chase across varied planets as various subplots unfold.
This book wasn't what I was expecting and I liked it immensely. Very similar in tone to Vernor Vinge's work regarding post-singularity socities.
This book continues in the same universe that Stross created previously. In this book, we get a lot more exposition to let us know what is going on. Some good hard SF stuff in the beginning to reel you in to the story. A complete who-dunit from the beginning.
Back, central to the story, are Rachel and Martin the heroic troubleshooter couple we saw bond in the first novel. Along with them are a nice cast of characters that Stross brings together in eventually to a nice climax. Most of the motivations are believable, but the villains in the story are almost too evil. Stross tries to bring them back in toward the end with a speech by one of th ebad guys, but we aren't given enough to understand their twisted motivations.
I liked the surprises that popped up along the way. It was pulled off well, with me saying "Of course!".
The one thing I didn't buy was one of the romances that blossoms late in the novels. It didn't click in my mind.
Other than that, I thought Iron Sunrise was written better than Singluarity Sky and shows Stross honing his craft. I look forward to his new novels.Posted by michael at July 05, 2006 02:13 PM