Science Fiction and Fantasy Association of New Zealand

Absorption Absorption
by John Meaney

Supplied for review by Hachette New Zealand

Reviewed By: Jacqui Smith

When I was a kid, scouring the local libraries for science fiction, I learned to seek out the right yellow dust jackets that signified quality SF published by Gollancz – I knew I’d get a good read, even if I’d never heard of the author. Well, the bright yellow jackets have gone, but Gollancz is still here as a mark of quality SF, and this is a fine example.

For starters, this is proper science fiction, with spaceships, strange futures, and elements of time travel, as we swing backwards and forwards from Viking pre-history, through 1930’s Europe, to distant Fulgor in the 27th century.   As a rule, I dislike constant switching between characters in divers times and places, but Meaney makes it work, mainly through the subtle links between the characters.

What is continuing to bug me are fragments of this novel which I swear I’ve read before – in particular, chapter nine where Carl Blackstone remembers becoming a Pilot. If someone could figure out just where that was previously published, I’d be grateful. Nonetheless this is clever, clever stuff, and very well written. Meaney succeeds in making high weirdness make sense, a true gift in an SF writer.

This is volume one of a trilogy, so it’s far from the end of the story, and it does end on a major defeat for the good guys – let’s make it quite clear that if you’re going to be a hero in Meaney’s world, the consequences may well be fatal. Gotta say that I’m keen to see what happens next…

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