Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Evolutionary Void, Married with Zombies, and The Dervish House Reviews

The Dervish House
Ian McDonald
PYR, Jul 27 2010, $26.00
ISBN: 9781616142049

In 2027 in Istanbul, Turkey Necdet rides the jammed tram to work, but though he is not a creep he cannot stop staring at the young woman with the red highlights and silver curls. Thus he sees first hand when she touches a jewel at her throat and detonates her head. The exploding skull panics everybody.

The nanotechnological Swarmbots gizmos investigate what seems like a loner suicide bomber. Necdet knows he must elude the Swarmbots because they have ways of knowing everything; he must not reveal that he is moving into the Dervish House for fear he will destroy his brother’s plan to use the home as a sanctuary for an underground Islamic group. The timing for the move is bad especially as the country celebrates its fifth decade as a member of the EU, which means terrorists will blow themselves and others up for some obscure inane cause in God’s name and law enforcement will sweep anyone regardless of criminality.

This is a complicated gloomy science fiction novel that extrapolates current trends in politics, economics, religion, science, technology and social terrorism into a strong enthralling thriller. The cast is solid starting with Necdet and the Swarmbots while the story line is fast-paced and extremely dark. Readers will appreciate Ian McDonald’s ominous near future as 1984 comes to full throttle in his vision of 2027. Harriet Klausner

Married with Zombies
Jesse Petersen
Orbit, Sep 1 2010, $7.99
ISBN: 9780316102865

Seattle based David and Sarah hope to salvage their faltering marriage as they love one another. When they go to their appointment with their marriage counselor, they find Dr. Erica Kelly dining on another couple. Shocked, they flee in spite of charges for a missed visit.

They manage to reach their home safely, but remain stunned with what they witnessed. After discussing what next, David and Sarah decide to visit his sister in nearby Longview to insure she is okay. Everywhere they go they are chased by a zombie horde. Having seen the Romero and Ron Zombie films and other sub-genre movies of the walking dead, they know how to fight the enemy. As they remain struggling first with seemingly irreconcilable differences, they team up as married slayers battling the dead while having each other’s back but also thinking of placing the knife elsewhere.

Based on the principle the “couple who slays together stays together”; Married with Zombies is a fun lighthearted horror thriller that never takes itself even remotely seriously. Fast-paced, but eventually repetitive with a ton of zombie tangos and dysfunctional marital discord, this remains an amusing lampooning of zombie fever.

Harriet Klausner

The Evolutionary Void
Peter F. Hamilton
Del Rey, Aug 24 2010, $28.00
ISBN: 9780345496577

Having become known as the Second Dreamer, Araminta fears everyone hunts her for their own purpose. She believes some want her dead and others want to use her; both for the same reason; her ability to provide a path into the timeless Void where many believe Eden exists while other think pandemic destruction will occur.

Ilanthe of the Accelerator Faction and the Living Dream cult want to control the gateway, which is Araminta so they can enter the Void. Others like Government Agent Myo search for Araminta fearing what she might unleash as the Void demands incredible energy from outside to feed it. Meanwhile Edeard the Waterwalker has fooled with time judiciously (in his mind that is) for his people, but his dreams that connect to the First Dreamer Inigo turn darker as he grieves loss caused by his maneuvers. Inigo via Edeard and Araminta via herself must make choices that will determine much of what is to come inside and outside the Void.

This is an extremely complex and somewhat convoluted science fiction thriller as the intensity and tautness mount towards a showdown that could alter the universe. With an underlying concept that even when the monumental universe is at stake, the fully developed key cast members bring personal agendas and plenty of baggage whether they are heroic or malevolent. Although, one must read the previous two books in the Void trilogy (see The Dreaming Void and The Temporal Void) to dive into the Void finale entry, fans of the saga will relish the entertaining ending.
Harriet Klausner

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