Absorption (book, John Meaney, 2010)
From SFX 197.
THREE AND A HALF STARS
John Meaney/ Gollancz /405 pages /£12.99
Slightly unfocussed multi-timeline space opera shenanigans.
John Meaney is proving a versatile author. After the weirded-out dark fantasy of the two Tristopolis books, he returns to high concept space opera with the first in the Ragnorok series, where bold individuals from across the aeons fight against a darkness that threatens to undo the universe. Space-time, with bonus Norse gods!
It’s all a bit too ambitious. The A story of Absorption is the coming of age tale of young Pilot (post-humans who reside in the core reality of the multiverse) Roger Blackstone, as he helps foil the plans of a Luculenta (upraised human) to devour a world. This is rollicking fun, packed full of good ideas, if heavy on infodumps.
However, the dashing back and forth in time is distracting. It’s as if Meaney’s absorbed by his dazzling, 27th century future, yet feels obliged to visit these other eras to establish plot points for the rest of the series. Not to say that these other ideas are poor – there’s a good first contact story, and the Viking segments are exciting, yet the protagonists of these parts are ultimately left hanging with little to do, while Nazi-era Jewish physicist Gavi Wolf has her life unceremoniously trotted through, included solely to meet a host of historic characters and provide a love-interest-with-a-quirk for future Roger. We’d have happily seen Roger’s story run on its own and could easily have enjoyed the rest else time. As it is, what is intended to entice us back for more instead draws our attention away.
Still, undernourished elements aside, Absorption’s core story is well worth the cover price alone. Better too ambitious than not ambitious at all, we say, there’s not enough stuff like this out there.
Di d you know?
John Meaney is a rock hard Shotokan Karate king. This in no way influences our scoring of his books…