Recently we talked about books with guys at work and I was recommended a whole bunch of authors and stories I’d never heard of before (and among other things I discovered that one of my co-workers is extremely well-read). I decided that “why not” and read two novels suggested by two colleagues =)
“The Real Story” is the first book in “The Gap Cycle” written by Stephen R. Donaldson. Apparently, later on the series becomes darker and deeper but “The Real Story” is a very easy-to-read piratical adventure about two space pirates and a woman who’s captured by one of them. The book doesn’t contain any new ideas and doesn’t even describe the world it takes place in. However, Donaldson is a very effective author — the plot flows smoothly and it’s very easy to get hooked. He explained that his idea was to show how characters involved into the famous triangle “a Victim – a Villain – a Rescuer” all change their roles — and that indeed happens but you’ll pay attention to this only if you’re aware of the author’s grand plan. The funny thing is that we observe everything mostly from the Villain’s point of view and even though logically you understand that he’s a bad guy it’s kind of difficult to _not_ sympathize with him when finally his plans ruined and his life is on the verge of destruction. Going to buy the second book — and look forward to finally meet aliens there, I was told that they’re completely inhuman.
“Prey” is a child of Michael Crichton’s imagination, whose the most famous work is “Jurassic Park”. There’s an opinion that Crichton is a “pop scifi” writer and I’d say that “Prey” confirms that. As far as I understood his books follow the scenario where we see some technological and/or biological advancement, then something goes wrong and then the main characters save the day. In the “Prey”‘s case this advancement is nanomachines. The main character is a former programmer (but currently he has to be a stay-at-home dad) and whose spouse is in charge of an unbelievably important project. But the wife’s becoming acting more and more weirdly. Is she cheating on him? Is she on drugs? This part, when the normal life of an average guy is disturbed but disturbed by something relatively ordinary is the best one of the book. Then things become more action-packed and more stupid. Swarms of nanomachines on the wild, their evolution, the attempts of the main character to destroy those swarms (and the main hero is a 40-years old programmer and accompanied by other programmers — a squad less than ideal to destroy whatever, except maybe a couple canisters of beer) — it felt unnatural and, frankly, boring. Also, Crichton was a smart guy and he added a lot of real-life facts in his book. But unfortunately he _added_ and not wove them. It looked as if he had a list of “Things I must mention” while working on the book, which he’s going to use without any consideration how well they’d be integrated. So, as the Warden Twins in Persona 5 usually said “Not terrible but not impressive”.