I don't know where to start with my review. I enjoyed this book. There was a great story with very interesting characters and mostly believable dialogue.
There was more - and here's where the mostly believable dialogue might be explained...
To completely understand what's going on in this novel, you have to understand, at least a little, such things or rather, concepts an/or theories as:
- quantum physics
- genetic engineering
- memory reconstruction
- artificial intelligence ( AI and all the potentials of)
There are other terms used in Spin State, but I'm not sure if they are "real" terms or rather if they are official terms - "slipstream", "biological constructs", etc. I think by the end of the book I had at least an idea of what these terms and theories were about. I know this doesn't sound too promising of a novel that's written presumably for enjoyment and relaxation - but I also realize that there are some people who enjoy and relax by reading heavy duty science epics, theories, math equations, etc. This book would probably be great for them.
Basically, in the future, in a time when Earth has been evacuated and people are living on other colonized planets or space stations...Catherin Li, a soldier in an elite military - UN Peacekeeper - has been assigned (or blackmailed) into investigating a death on a mining planet. Turns out this death is possibly murder, and of course there are major political minefields to be negotiated.
In a twist of racial bigotry, we now have species bigotry - there are factions that look down on each other, and there are the "down-trodden". Post-humans, constructs, AI's and others. I didn't completely understand all of this. Apparently there are some humans that aren't purely human - they are a percentage of human and technology, or gene manipulation - growing in labs or tanks. There are also people grown in creche's though I have to admit I wasn't sure what the difference was with them - they have enhanced strength and computer like minds, and "hive-like" mentality. There's more to it, but too much to explain here. The enhanceds constructs are also engineered, and I kept finding myself confused as to which were more human than which.
Anyway the main character is less human than she wants to let on - apparently she was grown in a tank, and somehow adopted by a miner family. She was able to excape the mining life and planet she was on, with fake certificates and a new identity - but she's been hiding this all her adult life. Coming to investigate a death on the mining planet opens up a whole new set of problems for her.
The mining planet's export is coal and a crystal that is used in space jumps - it's more complicated than that, of course. Anyway this is part of the political intrigue going on, as is the death that's being investigated. Ms Li is approached by spies from the other side, and is walking a fine tightrope, trying to keep her employer happy and trying not to be discovered her self (as a not-so human).
Spin State is full of mystery, danger and twisty little plots and subplots. It's also full of things that I didn't quite understand, as well as somethings that I almost understood....I feel like my review is kind of all over the place, and nowhere at the same time.
So - the story itself was:
- interesting and entertaining.
- good dialogue - most of the time
- a few pages here and there with major infodumps in the form of dialogue
- a love interest between an AI that travels between bodies and Ms Li, though she doesn't want to admit to a love between them because, hello - not a real person, this AI, how can he/she have any real emotion?
- gender bending roles - in the sex department, it appears that Li, and possibly others have sex with whoever they are attracted to (not wildly, indiscrimitely) whether male or female and this is treated matter of factly - no drama made of it. No obvious disapproval from others either. It just is.
- gender bending roles - in the job positions - lots of females in charge. soldiers are male and female with no tired sexist scenes
- hardcore science theories and phrases, terminology threaded througout the story
- political intrigue and danger
- DANGER and adventure
- some fights - some satisfying fights
- space travel
- virtual reality visiting
- a satisfying end with a blossoming love story
- the sex and love story is NOT graphic
- 597 pages of story
If you are a science buff you will enjoy this book. I like science fiction, don't like to study science and even though there was some infodumps and a lot of theories and wording that made my eyes literally glaze over - I enjoyed the book. I actually looked forward to getting back to the book whenever I had to put it down. Chris Moriarty's writing skills were enough to carry the book for me.
I would like to read the sequel, Spin Control. Unfortunately, the only references I could find for Chris Moriarty on the web tonight were her wiki page, amazon mentions and a website that was suppose to be hers, but was written in Asian characters - so not sure what's happening there. Usually, writers have at least a blog - I found one for her weeks ago, but couldn't find it tonight.
2010 Speculative Fiction Reading Challenge
2010 Countdown Reading Challenge - 2003