Spin State - Chris Moriarty

Little was I expecting to read a cross between cyberpunk and Dune!

The protagonist is a cyborg'd genetically engineered soldier/hacker, working with an AI on an illicit mission. So far, so cyberpunk. The mission is on the one world that produces a mysterious material that allows faster-than-light interstellar travel. This material is core to a fundamental secret of the planet which may shake the very foundations of a galactic empire. Er, very Dune.

But wait, there's more! The protagonist is investigating a murder, so there's the vaguest of police procedural. There's cyberspace, and the dangers of gritty, under-regulated mining. There's quantum mechanics, there are love interests, there's even a small amount of Lesbians In Space. How could they fit so much into so slender a novel?

Mostly, by using surprisingly thin paper. The copy I had looked like a normal slim paperback, but came out at 600-odd pages. It's not terribly pacy. I think it's trying to be hard sci-fi. It's got a huge list of references at the back to lots of books on quantum. However, the complete skipping-over of the problems of FTL, and the hand-waving about how QM affects the characters in the book is rather more Dune than, say, Greg Egan.

So, it's really Dune wearing a biker jacket. This wouldn't be a problem, but it doesn't think it is, and it's too long. It's trying to put too many things in at once, as if the author is trying to flush out all their ideas in a single book. It's not terribly deep - the world-building to explosions ratio feels a little towards the Neal Asher end of the spectrum. Apparently, there's a sequel. Perhaps I'll read it one day, but Spin State is just too long and not quite good enough to justify it.

Posted 2012-06-08.