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Thursday, January 27, 2011

More 2011 Notable Upcoming Novels: The Samuil Petrovitch trilogy by Simon Morden (by Liviu Suciu)

I have vaguely heard of Simon Morden, mostly through his - informative, polite and avoiding the self-important smugness of others there - comments on Torque Control and possibly other related sites, so I was partly intrigued when his Samuil Petrovitch trilogy - Equations of Life, Theories of Flight (check the blurb at your peril since it is quite spoiler-ish for Equations of Life), Degrees of Freedom (for this one I am staying away from the blurb until I finish Theories of Flight) was announced from Orbit to be published in consecutive month releases, March-June 2011.

To be honest, the blurb below sounded a bit like a try at reviving the dated and almost dead cyberpunk of the 90's, so it was only of middling interest, but I really liked the way Mr. Morden expressed himself in those comments and Equations of Life became a higher priority for me than it otherwise would have been.

So when Orbit released an advanced copy of Equations of Life, I got it and I really got hooked on opening it, so I stayed way too late to finish it, while Theories of Flight from which I read some 50 pages so far, is my next read, the first thing when I get some decent chunk of continuous reading time. I will have full reviews in due time, close to the publishing dates, while for now only some thoughts, so you know to keep an eye on this series since the first volume was superb and the second starts as good as the first.

"Samuil Petrovitch is a survivor.
He survived the nuclear fallout in St. Petersburg and hid in the London Metrozone - the last city in England. He's lived this long because he's a man of rules and logic.
For example, getting involved = a bad idea.
But when he stumbles into a kidnapping in progress, he acts without even thinking. Before he can stop himself, he's saved the daughter of the most dangerous man in London.
And clearly saving the girl = getting involved.
Now, the equation of Petrovitch's life is looking increasingly complex.
Russian mobsters + Yakuza + something called the New Machine Jihad = one dead Petrovitch.
But Petrovitch has a plan - he always has a plan - he's just not sure it's a good one."

On the surface the combination of standard cyberpunk/post-apocalyptic stuff seems both done to death and already dated, but this book just grabs from the first page and never lets go and this is due to the style of the author and to the superb characters he creates:

Petrovitch first and foremost (young almost-genius physicist, radiation scarred and with a weak heart that may kill him at any sustained effort), but the whole cast with Inspector Chain (the detective that investigates the attempted kidnapping and related stuff), Sonja (the girl in the blurb), Madeleine (a big and strong young nun/bodyguard, member of a military Catholic order that has license to go armed and protect priests and churches from attacks), Sorenson (a dodgy American businessman and technologist), the very wealthy businessman/gangster/(read the book to find out what more) Oshicora (an ultra-traditionalist Japanese who tries to recreate the now sunken under the waves Japan at least virtually, Sonja is his daughter with his English wife who is presumed dead in the disaster that overtook Japan), his various minions (all Japanese survivors too), rival gangster Marchenko (a Stalin worshiper and a gangster boss far-second to Oshicora in influence, who orders the kidnapping, provides lots of comic relief) and his minions, Epiphany (Pif) Ekanobi, Petrovich's fellow (true) genius scientist on the verge of proving a GUT and many more (assorted gangs, cafe owners, the priest protected by Madeleine...)

Set in the 2020's in a future alt-hist diverging from ours in 2002 or so with Armageddon coming around that time - more about it is in the stories available free online HERE and which seem to be more-or-less in tune with the novels - in the London Metrozone which is essentially the main governable part of England at the time, the book reads in many ways like a combination of JC Grimwood superb cyberpunk alt-histories (RedRobe, Remix) with a dash of PF Hamilton Mandel series - this one less in setting or tech, but more in general "feel".

Fast, furious, well written and with great, great characters and as good as gets in the subgenre...


Antonakis said...

Those covers ... make me dizzy. I don't think I like them at all.


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