12.5.10

Recursion




Tony Ballantyne, Recursion, New York: Spectra Publishing, 2006, 432 pgs.

Gotta love awesome little cover descriptions on books right? Personally, regardless of the quality of the book, I always get a kick out of how these things are written out. Designed to tantalize, effected to entice, and constructed to captivate, these phrases leap from the front, and back, of book covers in all their cheese covered glory. Thankfully it is usually the editors, I presume, who write these things rather than the author.

So, what is this book? Well, you won't get a very good idea from reading the back, thats for sure. Not that I was entirely disappointed, but it was not what I expected. The problem is that it is hard to tell you what the book is really about without ruining the ending. So, instead, let me tell you how it is constructed. The book is made up of 3 stories, all in different time periods, and all radically different. There is the story of a woman living in a society where literally everything you do is watched by a kind of 'big brother' organization whose only goal is make sure you are living healthy and happy, but she is neither and plans an elaborate suicide attempt. When this fails, she is committed to a mental institution. The second story, in terms of time lines (they are actually presented from the furthest in the future, then the past, then the middle), follows a man who is a kind of cross between an entrepreneur and a high tech spy (completely outfitted with multiple personalities, each with their own gifts and abilities!) as he seeks to make some kind of deal with AI's. Finally, the far future, follows Herb who accidentally destroys an entire world with self-replicating machines and is then recruited by the 'Environmental Agency' as a kind of punishment.

Yes, oddly diverse story lines. They are all connected, however, by AI. I won't say anymore than that about the plot. For the story, I kind of felt like I was reading a high-tech Tom Clancy novel. This is not entirely bad. It was entertaining, and Ballantyne's ideas surrounding technology and science-fiction type stuff were even surprising at times. However, much of it, in terms of plot and character, was highly predictable and repetitive.

So, conclusion... certainly not on any top list of mine. If you have nothing better to read, and you enjoy science fiction, and your attention span is too short to follow one story line, and you don't mind picking up random details to pull the stories together, then this is the book for you... whoever you are. If thats not you, then be prepared for a light and enjoyable distraction, but only if you at least like SF already. Otherwise, avoid this book.

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