“I contain multitudes,” Yorick says. “And most of them are shitbags.”
oh, Ymir, it’s not you, it’s me. this is a fantastic book for a different reader—one with an appetite for cyberpunk/near future stuff. i consistently struggle with SF because i have no imagination, and even the smallest bit of tech-stuff leaves me panicked with incomprehension, so i was floundered in over my head with this one.
it’s a very loose interpretation of b-wulf—these aren’t your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great granny’s grendels:
Grendels have distributed processing, a dozen odd nodes that are in constant flux around the reactor—not unlike the nervous systems of the clever cephalopods, the ones the company breeds on some colony worlds for marine work. Humans have an echo of the same in their limbic system, in reflex and instinct.
they’re all xenocarbon armor and ports and filaments that burrow into your EYES to communicate and in the rest of the book there’s nerve suits and geophages and drones and droids and ansibles and gutjacks and holomasks and torpor pools and teledocs and debodying and bubblefabs and all of that to say that larson has Done the Work of worldbuilding, but i am lost within his world. i’m fine with the bodymod stuff—having just seen Crimes of the Future, i have no problem encountering a detachable mandible or a leg containing a musical instrument, but futuristic weaponry and neurochemical manipulation are way beyond my abilities.
it was not a complete loss, though—underneath all the futuretech is a timeless human story of estranged brothers and revenge and lost opportunities for reconciliation, and it is powerful stuff, and the cityscapes peppered with orphans and oddballs was very appealing. also—lots of creative violence, people reduced to “rearranged meat” and such. loved that for me.
additionally, the dystopian-mystery/rebellion elements were great; there’s an almost noir aspect to the suspense, in the way that Blade Runner is noir, and i appreciate the gloomy humor:
Yorick knows that now is the time to stay put. To stay safe. He can drink himself into a stupor in the furnished oblivion of his hotel room, order the host droid to bring an endless parade of bottles up the endless staircase. He can gorge himself until his shrunken stomach is screaming, then throw it all up in the toilet. These are a few of his many pastimes.
but while i’m sure the rest of it would be incredibly entertaining and original to someone whose brain works in a way that mine does not, i can only be the reader that i am and no one is more disappointed in me than myself.
* i just looked, and this is an unprecedented short story winning streak: i have five-
starredcatted How Quini the Squid Misplaced His Klobučar, Painless, Our King and His Court, Meat and Salt and Sparks, and The King in the Cathedral, which goodreads deleted from the site but you can read here and my deleted from GR review is still over on blog.