Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
First things first: I had a great time.
As in, this is a goofy, fast-paced, unabashedly hard-SF, galaxy-spanning space-opera mania that mixes cloud-computing universe-spanning quantum-computing with the afterlife, instant travel, world-eating gods, cyborgs, huge space battles, and a HUGE baddie in the Empress of Forever who is literally impossible to defeat because she IS the substrate of the entire universe I just described.
When it comes to the whole grab bag of SF concepts and the way it is all put together, this is no lightweight SF. It made me dance around, happy as a pig in muck, and I pretty much forgave anything else because Gladstone KNOWS his genre inside and out. I thought he couldn't be topped in the UF field, but I should have had a bit more faith. :)
So why aren't I giving this a full 5 stars? Because the plot is kinda standard and predictable. The twist, especially, and although I DID like the backward hints residing in the naming conventions that spelled it all out, the SECOND twist that I expected didn't come.
The characters were pretty fine. The focus did have some self-realization going on and this is definitely a Lesbian space adventure that has a lot of Iron Man overtones. Otherwise, the description in the blurb is accurate. Guardians of the Galaxy misfits, indeed. No complaints here.
Fun stuff, ESPECIALLY after you get through the opening bits in the book. It really takes off once a certain lady gets woken up. Definitely popcorn fiction for the nanotech infected galaxy. :)
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