Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with?
Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my FINISHING THE SERIES!
I loves me a good series! But I'm terrible for starting a new series before finishing my last - so this reading list is all about trying to close out those series I've got on the go...A quick look at the numbers...
Why is it that
, the first book in Gibson
trilogy, has 137,000 ratings on Goodreads - but
, the second book, has just 22,000 - and the third book,
Mona Lisa Overdrive
, just 17,000?
That's roughly 16% of
readers following on to the next book and just 12% making it to the end of the series.
You have to ask - why the big drop-off?
The series scores reasonably well - between 3.8/3.9 - so it's not as if everyone is reading
and saying "that was horrible, no more, please!" - although, I'll admit it does spark a greater love/hate split than most books.
From what investigations I've had time to do, the more common attitude seems to be along the lines of "Wow. That was quite something. I'm glad I've read it, but I don't need to read any more. Job done."A thought on character...
isn't a direct sequel - it doesn't pick-up the same characters - but it's set in the same world, orbiting the same scene, with some common threads - but each stands alone perfectly well. For most series it's the characters which act as the hook, pulling you on. You want to read the next instalment to find out how they fare in their next adventure. Not the case here. Which, again, explains some of that drop-off rate.
But even if Gibson
had rejoined Case and co, I don't think everyone would have read on because character empathy is not his strong suit. Gibson
is a stylist; a poetic, lyrical, idiosyncratic and wildly imaginative dreamer. He sketches out his anti-heroes with the minimum amount of effective brush-strokes, and animates his stories with a kinetic energy and effervescence that I find enthralling.Why not so good?
Everything I love about
is still present in
- but the story type isn't quite as suited to highlighting those strengths.
is a heist story - and I have a special fondness for those. Heist's make criminals likeable, so they're a common lens for antihero crime tales - especially in cinema. For a classic heist tale, you collect your gang of crooks together, each bringing their own specialist skills, and set them a seemingly impossible job, which can only by overcome through careful co-operation and the whole becoming greater than the sum of the parts. Exact same formula as the classic 'gang on a quest' fantasy - and it works for
is almost a portmanteau. Several unrelated characters, each with their own smaller adventure, are tied together by the ending and some thematic resonance. While I was reading it, I kept thinking that it actually made an easier introduction to Gibson
did. The characters are mostly 'innocents' - a newbie hacker, a betrayed art dealer, a genius daughter on the run... they're all being introduced to the grimey world of corporate war, cybercrime, and god-like ghosts in the machines getting cosy with the mob.
But the portmanteau is a more artsy format, and coupled with Gibson
's approach, for me, it ends-up a little too dilute. No one thread packs enough of a punch to deliver the killer blow, and the resonance between the threads isn't strong enough to compensate. But still pretty damn good?
Hell yeah! My personal highlight was the mash-up of fragmented AI personae with voodoo loa (such as Baron Samedi)! Made me wonder how much influence Simmons drew from Gibson
. I love the idea of "god-like" technological entities interpreting themselves as spiritual intermediaries with God. It's a concept with far greater scope than Gibson
has chance to explore here.
I have mixed feelings about the prominence of the corporate mercenary, Turner. He's the main driving force behind the plot action, but within his thread it's the scientist's daughter he rescues, Angie, who really keys into the common themes. Sadly she's massively overshadowed by Turner, which is part of the dissonance amongst the threads I alluded to earlier. But on the plus side, Turner is a very cool character in his own right and the primary inspiration (I would assume) behind Richard Morgan
's Takeshi Kovac
books. So - swings and roundabouts, eh?No awards?
went up against Card
Speaker for the Dead
(the sequel to
) and it's hard to argue against that one.
Speaker for the Dead
is superb (I gave it 5 stars, hands-down) and it took both the Hugo and Nebula awards away from
. Carry on?
Well, I clicked "buy, buy now!" for book 3 in the series,
Mona Lisa Overdrive
within about thirty seconds of finishing the book... so I think you can safely say I'm keen for the next instalment! But I'm pretty disciplined with my reading lists these days so I'll force myself to wait at last a month or two... but yeah... I'm definitely looking forward to it.After this I read: A Feast for Crows