Ever so slowly I am working through the backlog of books I have been sent to review. Have you ever hear the phrase ‘So may books, so little time’? That is certainly true of Lowly’s life. I will admit that ‘hard SF’ is often left until later, simply because most of the time I read to relax rather than to be stimulated into thinking. This book will definitely demand serious thinking from any reader.
Set far, far in the future, long after humans have evolved into the next level, Jean is in prison for theft. Prisons have also evolved, and his punishment is pretty horrific. So when Mieli offers him the chance of escape, he eagerly accepts even if she demands a favour in return. She wants him to go to Mars and steal something. The problem is that Jean once lived on Mars, and he is remembered, especially by the woman he left behind.
OK so the plot resembles an action crime novel. But the beauty of SF is in the ideas, and there were ideas galore in this read. Wealth is measured in time. Humanity is immortal – becoming Quiet for a time before resurrecting. The Quiet maintain consciousness and even perform services for those ‘alive’. And the whole punishment in prison is incredible. Any one of these ideas would be enough for a lesser SF author. Or an unskilled author would spend so much time exploring these fascinating ideas that the plot would get lost. Whether the reader can thank the writer or the editor, this book left the original ‘out there’ ideas for pondering and got on with telling the story.
This book is now out in paperback, and Rajaniemi has a second novel out. If you are a SciFi fan, get it, get both of them, and enjoy. If futuristic SciFi is not your thing, give this one a miss.