Saturday, 12 September 2015

SCIENCE FICTION REVIEW: Chasing the Phoenix - Michael Swanwick

Release Date: 11/08/15
Publisher:  Pan Macmillan/Tor


In the distant future, Surplus arrives in China dressed as a Mongolian shaman, leading a yak which carries the corpse of his friend, Darger. The old high-tech world has long since collapsed, and the artificial intelligences that ran it are outlawed and destroyed. Or so it seems.

Darger and Surplus, a human and a genetically engineered dog with human intelligence who walks upright, are a pair of con men and the heroes of a series of prior Swanwick stories. They travel to what was once China and invent a scam to become rich and powerful. Pretending to have limited super-powers, they aid an ambitious local warlord who dreams of conquest and once again reuniting China under one ruler. And, against all odds, it begins to work, but it seems as if there are other forces at work behind the scenes.


Every so often I love to try a book that’s a little different to my normal cup of tea and whilst previously I’ve had quite a bit of fun jumping into political intrigue within the pages of either a Sci-Fi or a Fantasy they’ve always kept the flavour true to the genre. Whilst that is the case with this book by Michael, the main problem that I have is that it seems to be full of that many twisted schemes within machinations that you’re very quick to lose track of what’s happening where or who has actually gotten the top hand over the other.

This for me is further convoluted by the fact that I really don’t like the principle character and whilst the concept within was pretty solid, for me the delivery wasn’t quite there which when added to my character dislike made it a hell of a struggle to finish. I did, but its one of those books I kept reading a few pages of here and there rather than sit with it until the end.

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