The second volume of the Astropolis trilogy, this sci-fi novel by Australian award winner Sean Williams is a bit of an oddity. If people would ask me if it was worth the read in the first part, I would say no, as I was close to tossing it on the small pile of books I would never finish. Would they ask it in the second part, I`d say it is not to bad. And by the end, I found it a shame it had ended...
The problem I guess is a bit two fold, in that it takes a long time to `kick off`, almost 150 pages out of the 275 before it get`s good, and that I didn`t read the first part yet so I had no idea of all the special terms as humanity has evolved to that point they perceive time in different manners.
You have the now nearly extinct Forts, then there are Old-Timers, Primes and Singletons, all having to do with how long they live and if they have copies of themselves out there. Humanity is on this point that they can hardcast through the galaxy as a datastream, but apart from huge distances, this also spans at times milleniums in travelling time. For the Primes though, this feels like weeks, so civilisations might have come and go in the time they leave and arrive on the next stop.
This all makes it quit a bit complicated for the new reader to the series...
The story itself centers on First Prime Imre Bergamasc, who during the story not only learns more about who he used to be, wether he had been a Fort or not, and how the Forts got actually killed by something called the Slow Wave. It revolves around an internal treachery in his own inner-circle of friends as one tries to take his place as ruler of the Returned Continuum, while he is figuring out sabotage and intrigue.
Together with his close knit group of friends, they do discover that not all the Forts are indeed gone, and that they aren`t the only species in the galaxy, one set to become a major player apparently in part 3, the other a minor parasite native to a single planet.
But once the ball does get rolling and Imre is coming closer to learning the truth of not only the conspiracy, but also himself, the story is picking up pace and you are starting to get pulled in more and more into the story, making it wash away the rather disappointing taste the first half of the novel has left in your mouth thus far.
It only would have helped if a small part of the explanatory appedix had been at the front of the book though ;-)
Showcase: Kristina Erickson by RAFM
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