Usually I love Chris (formerly Christopher) Brookmyre: hardboiled tartan noir, formerly laced with dour black humour (Chris mellowed Christopher’s excoriating wit, with age), and strong female heroes which few male authors manage convincingly.
I have to say this was my least favourite of his books so far. The complex plotting is there, as is the usual economic imbalance and burning sense of social injustice, plus he gives us two very different, brilliantly complex female heroes. Detective story set in space! It should have been a winner. And it did get better, towards the end, but it was desperately slow to get going. I was tempted to do the unthinkable, and not finish – pages and pages of tedious exposition, on the structure of this bloody space station, and how artificial intelligence research is still years off giving us androids – what, five or six times? Why? Maybe just in case we forget, because 300 pages later that whole concept comes up again.
I’m not a huge fan of hard SF but I do read it. Robert A. Heinlein? Been there (one of the space platforms or stations or something is named after him). Places In The Darkness reminds me a bit of Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves, operating on the principle that too much information is never enough.
Sometimes hard SF can be done well (The Martian springs to mind). But this was, if I’m honest, quite boring for quite a lot of pages. It did finally pick up, but I couldn’t recommend it as a favourite.
Sorry Christopher. I should go back and write reviews for all the ones that are brilliant...
What Works And Why?
We read to escape, enjoy, engage, and find out more about our world. So reading is great - but what makes a great read? A page dedicated to short analyses of how writers engage readers.