Radix by A.A. Attanasio
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm tempted to just rate this one based on how I'm impressed I am with the author's intentions, but my mind isn't entirely wired that way. The ATTEMPT is pretty amazing, however, and let me rave about that for a moment before I break down my breakdown.
First of all, it's a great progression novel, like a spiritualist hard-SF that feels like a Buddha journey with tons of new-age goodies following a kind of level-up sequence that has skills building on skills, consciousness-expanding bits leading to godlike AIs and naked singularities.
Written like this, it sounds like something I'm totally down for, and I am, IN THEORY. It's epic, with lots and lots of progressions, reveals, and leveling up without it being like a role-playing game at all. It's a spiritual journey that gets tied in tight with massive astral progressions and AI nuttiness and life force stuff.
As a SF, I wish we had more of this in general, so it kinda makes me want to tear my hair out that I just didn't LIKE the main character much at all. Maybe it was his beginning. (Probably most likely yes.) Ugly through and through, and not just physically. Seeing him wise up and work through his issues is kinda the thing, yes, but it was a tricky balance and it just didn't work for me.
But what about all the goodies, you ask? Well, they're all pretty damn good. It's kinda like watching a brilliantly produced movie with the best special effects and progression but the casting was simply ATROCIOUS.
I came away from this wondering if I just wasted my time with the most expensive, gorgeous train wreck ever written. And then I started thinking to myself: Ooooh this could totally be ripped off and re-used because it was highly original and interesting even so. And then I thought to myself: maybe it already was. Zindell's Neverness was a glorious piece of fiction that did THIS one so much better and I actually LIKED the character. So. There's that.
I'll continue these particular books because while I had some issues, it was still fascinating as hell.
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