The Zenith Angle - Bruce Sterling

This is a very silly book. Reviews call it 'darkly comic', but it's just plain silly. It's a piss-take on the war-on-terror and the dot-com bubble bursting/financial scandals, but it's just too silly and all over the place to work massively well. You can tell it's written by the author of The Hacker Crackdown, but taking that kind of topic to fiction just hasn't worked well. With more futuristic sci-fi, lapses in technological realism don't jar, but in a contemporary setting the weaknesses shine through.

As well as the technology, I don't feel the characters worked terribly well. The main character, a research scientist turned telecoms VP, acted in the most non-linear manner I've seen in any book character. The plot, for the most part of the book, meandered without strong direction. Half the last chapter provided a neat little twist, and then it was back to nuttiness.

If the book's trying to get a message across, it's not doing terribly well, unless the message is 'no-one really has a clue'. Having said that, it could all be a lot worse. It's entertaining enough, if you put your brain in neutral.

Posted 2006-03-14.