Eclipse by John Shirley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Did I get your attention? Well, yeah, that's the main drive, or drive AGAINST, in this novel, but it's no cookie-cutter SF adventure. It's actually rather rich, mostly named as a cyberpunk title coming out of 1985 and revamped to include more updated cultural references to music and even Ipads as of 2012 and repubbed. Do I mind? Hell no. It seems pretty excellent and timely and who am I to say that the author can't change his mind about a few things?
Most authors can't get away with that and too many fans might get upset, wrongly or rightly. Frankenstein, anyone?
Back to this. All the characters in this are getting established to run through the whole trilogy as one single novel, so even tho there's a great blowout by the end of this one, it's not meant to end with one big battle.
Battle? Yep, this is the build-up of a fascist regime and we follow the fascinating peeps who either die or survive the rise of it. This includes the colony off Earth as well as the Earth, itself, with all the racist elements that the Us vs Them mentality you can think of. Religion, neo-nazis, corporate aggrandizement, overpopulation, disappearing resources... you name it.
The rest of us are feeling the downfall of society. I did say this was timely. And the careful attention to detail and world-building, not to mention the depth of characterization, really makes this something special.
Yes, it's a novel of civil war on a global and extra-global scale, with all the misfits banding together. There's one particular scene I loved featuring a certain old-school rocker, totally pre-punk, which made my day.
Am I impressed? Yes. Absolutely. The sprawling nature of settings, how deeply the situations are novelized makes this more like 3 or 4 books in one by sheer weight of detail. And it's often funny and personally relatable. I love my music and obviously, the author does, too. :)
My only quibble is with the somewhat one-dimensional nature of the fascist movement. Most of it could be taken right out of a pop-culture diary without much exploration into the deeper roots of the movement, including the kinds of deeper frustrations that might give rise to it. We're introduced to it as a fact of life and we're in the middle of it.
Perhaps this is true to life, but nothing is ever QUITE this simple. I'm amazed at the scope the novel provides, but I am slightly underwhelmed by the direct application of the fascism. Alas.
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