Terminal World by Alastair Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
It's really quite amazing how much imagination can be crammed into these books.
It begins like a heist novel exploring a tower-of-babel-like city full of the fascinating inventions and unexplained forced-technological restrictions. The topmost layers allow for the most impressive levels of high-tech used by "angels" that can be real bastards all the way down to the lowest levels that only allow for horse-drawn simple tech. Passing through these zones can be very painful and usually life-threatening. Special drugs to help you acclimatize are in high demand. The heist portion begins with a doctor who used to be a full angel but is now on the run from the rest of his kind, but instead of leaving us here in this city, the novel becomes a full-blown steampunk novel with aerial battles, biological/machine constructs, and a full-out terraforming attempt gone very wrong.
This is Reynolds, of course, so expect fully-thought-out worldbuilding, awesome technologies and reasons for these technologies, a bit of tongue-in-cheek, and a lot of great action when it suits the tale. My only complaint is in a few slow bits in the center, but that was very nicely mitigated by a courtroom battle sandwiched between mutiny, murder, and a thousand-year strife in the skies. The later surprises are rather awesome and better still... CONSISTENT. All those reasons for the technological strata come clear. :)
As a regular SF, it still stands out a full head above most, especially when it comes to ... you get it ... IMAGINATION. ;)
View all my reviews