Saturday, 31 December 2011

Review | Equations of Life - Simon Morden

The cover... It burns. Aesthetics aside, Equations of Life is a book which makes me reconsider my gloomy views of the post-apocalyptic. The world of the Metrozone trilogy might be a nuclear wasteland, the titular Metrozone the last city in England, but it's also a lot of fun to read about. A short, fast-paced technothriller, Equations of Life's success is due in no small part to its unlikely hero: Samuil Petrovitch.

A physicist (on the trail of the Unified Field Theory - but then, who isn't?),  an immigrant, and possessed of a knack for not getting involved, Petrovitch has lived on his scholarship funds - working with his companion, Doctor Pif. So, what happens? His knack gives out: he saves Sonja Oshicora from kidnappers, and ends up in a war between the city's two crime organisations. But there's more. Threats of nuclear war, a quantum computer, a very militant nun (Maddy), and something called the New Machine Jihad...

Sometimes huge escalation in conflict scales makes a novel ridiculous. Sometimes, as in Equations, it just makes it fun. It's done with imagination, verve, and careful lampshading - and it works out brilliantly. I mean, a physicist against the world: why not? Petrovitch is a fantastic protagonist. Clever, competent, but also shadier than he looks - and willing to make some tougher decisions. (He's also, on occasion, hilarious). The side characters are also well developed and interesting, especially when confronted with Petrovitch's chaos - and his even more chaotic plans... Although the relationship with Maddy seemed rapid, the brevity of the book as a whole makes this acceptable; while other characters, like Oshicora himself, are wonderful.

This book is impossible to predict: and not in the 'merely very improbable' way. So many new events, objects and characters are introduced later on that developments are entirely unpredictable. This isn't a slow, thoughtful book, though - so it's no deus-ex-machinae for you, especially since the additions rarely help Petrovitch... The ending? Well, it surprised me. Don't come expecting too many familiar tropes, either. While some are played straight - in the beginning - others are subverted, again adding to the novel's unpredictable nature (although I'm not much of a post-apocalyptic reader, so a dedicated fan might see more of the familiar - I don't know).

All things considered, this is a refreshingly fast-paced and unconventional read. If you're looking for something lighter - physically or otherwise - this is likely for you; likewise, if you're a fan of unusual protagonists, or smply want to avoid the passive, this is also a great read. It may be short by the standards of, say, epic fantasy, but this is a great addition to your shelf.

Find it here: UK US


  1. This book has been sitting on my shelf for aaaaaaaages - and now I'm annoyed with myself for not having read it yet! It sounds like a whole lot of fun.

  2. It really is - lots of action, but completely atypical action (gun toting nuns, anyone?), as well as some great characters. I love Petrovitch's approach (and the very different reactions of everybody to his consistent Russian swearing :P )

  3. This is not about the book, but because i wanted to let you know that i picked you as one of my favorite blogs for 2011 at my blog: here


  4. الاول افضل شركة تنظيف خزانات بالرياض تستخدم مادة الابوكسي في تنظيغ و تطهير خزنات مياه الشرب بارخص الاسعار يمكنك الاستعانة بنا في اعمال غسيل خزانات بالرياض لتحصل على افضل الخدمات
    شركة الاول للخدمات


  5. اننا في شركة الرائد للخدمات المنزلية نقدم خدمات ممتازة في الدمام بافضل الاسعار بجودة عالية لمزيد من الخدمات تفضل بزيارة

    شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام شركة مكافحة حشرات بالدمام
    شركة تنظيف سجاد بالدمام شركة تنظيف سجاد بالدمام
    شركة تسليك مجاري بالدمام شركة تسليك مجاري بالدمام
    افضل شركة تنظيف بالدمام افضل شركة تنظيف بالدمام
    شركة مكافحة الفئران بالدمام شركة مكافحة الفئران بالدمام
    ارخص شركة نقل عفش بالدمام ارخص شركة نقل عفش بالدمام