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4.2 out of 5 stars
Voice of the Whirlwind (Hardwired Series, Book 2)
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
It's probably a good idea to take my review with a grain of salt. I like this book so much there's a passage from it tattooed on my thigh. Yes, you did read that correctly.

Walter Jon Williams is one of the heavyweights of science fiction. His characters are intellegent and engaging, and his books always have a message, but he doesn't go out of his way to beat you over the head with it.

Voice of the Whirlwind, however, is in a class by itself. It has martial arts, love, betrayal, creepy aliens, dry humor, corporate currencies, synthesized drugs, chess, self sacrifice, Uzbekistan...well, basically everything you could ask for in a relaxing, engaging read. Why this book never made the best sellers list is one of the bigger mysteries.

I could rant for hours, but the fact is, the crazier I sound, the less likely it is that you'll listen. So *please* give this one a try.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 14, 2007
I picked this off my bookshelf after not having read it for a number of years. Wow, did this book manage to hold up over time! Walter Jon Williams has always been an underrated and underappreciated SF writer; all of his books that I have read have been at least good, with many being great. "Voice of the Whirlwind" falls in the great category. Williams crafted a tightly-written novel that eschews the bloat that often creeps into SF (any genre, for that matter). This book is laser-focused, with no surplusage. The characters are believable, and the story is interesting. It's a military-ish novel without the jingoism and space opera of military SF; a cyberpunk-ish novel that isn't a Gibson clone, and a first contact-ish novel that puts a fresh spin on alien-human interaction. If I have any quibble with the book, it's that part of the plot seems a little overcomplicated to me, but not enough so to be more than a minor distraction than a major problem.

If you like SF, you will almost certainly enjoy this book. I'd even recommend this as a blind purchase for yourself or as a gift. If you don't feel that adventurous, "Voice of the Whirlwind" is definitely worth seeking out at your library.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 30, 2000
An intense story with three dimensional characters and realistic portrayals of action, this is a fast-paced, gritty ride into the future. This novel is based on plot and characters (not technology or glitz) and is a real literary contribution to the cyberpunk movement. An enduring classic the day it was published, it addresses issues that are common to veterans of any war--what is life like in peacetime (after the struggle) and what is the value of a so called "broken" veteran of a horrible conflict.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2012
When I am asked my top ten science fiction novels, Voice of the Whirlwind is always one I mention. It's an excellent combination of fascinating and exquisitely detailed worldbuilding combined with a main character so three dimensional you could get lost inside his head. Though he is a battle-hardened warrior, Steward is at his core a lost boy adolescent still looking for someone or some ethos to follow, to give his life meaning. What's remarkable is the way that the made-up Zen Warrior ethos that the corporation used to enslave him and his fellow Icehawks tracks so truly through the plot of the novel and fits in so well with the clone-based immortality of his society. I re-read this book often and I never get tired of it. Together with Hardwired and Days of Atonement, it is one of Williams' finest works.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 1999
Bought this book for the cover and was pleasantly suprised by the contents. Very well written, with all the paranoia and action cyberpunk fans expect.I wish he would write more like this one.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 1998
WJW is one of my favorite writers and "Voice.." is one of his best books IMHO, on par with "Hardwired" if not quite as good as "Aristoi". This book is a masterful work of Buddhist literature, made even more delightful by being written in the SF genre.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2013
I've read this book 3 times so far and it always is a pleasure. On the Kindle edition, Voice's $5 cost is a bargain.

It is as once relentlessly violent and quite touching. Loved the multiple plot twists at the end.

Some things stuck in my head after my most recent read...

Clone Steward looks for his past love, Nathalie. Finds her by the middle of the book. She rebuffs his attempts to get together again and that really pains him. Even if, due to him being a revived clone, she is at least 10 years his senior and sickly looking from years in zero-g.

Steward's Alpha, who arranged at great cost for clone insurance, never updates his memories which would have been cheap & easy. That seems to surprise everyone who learns about it and is never really explained. I've come to think it a gift, rather than neglect - not wanting to burden the clone with the traumatic memories of Sheol, where he fought a vicious guerrilla war against rival corporations.

Along with Neuromancer & Stand on Zanzibar, I consider this one of the seminal novels of cyberpunk. Contrary to much SF, it has aged quite well. Part of it is that it keeps the techno-babble to a minimum while privileging plot, solid character development and well-done descriptions and world-building. Plus Steward has a soul and ethics, even if it is made clear to him that he was chosen precisely because his worldview made him a target for manipulation. While not very frequent, the action scenes are superb.

Always been a huge fan of Mr. Williams and this is one of his finest books, along with Aristoi. Hardwired, which some prefer, is another cyberpunk novel of his. But I personally find it much more impersonal and predictable in its themes. There was also an allusion to the themes of Angel Station, where first contact can be an opportunity to get an advantage within your own race.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2011
Reads like a spy thriller, fast pace, great action, engaging characters, in a universe expertly drawn. Keeps you guessing right up to the end.

Buy it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2012
It's weird that I read WJW's later work (e.g., Praxis novels) but never his early stuff (other than excellent "Sarah Runs the Weasel," in Omni back in 1986, which turned out to be a trial run for Hardwired). Turns out his early works are outstanding, while the later stuff like the Dread Empire's Fall series left me a bit flat (though I read the whole series...). One of the constructs of the Praxis is the extreme rigidity of the Shaa empire and the resultant rigid thinking this has engendered in their subjugate races, so maybe it's just this central premise that puts me off. But in Voice of the Whirlwind (and Hardwired), it's full throttle wildly creative hard edged story telling at it's finest! Wow, am I glad to be discovering the earlier works now!

I find it particularly interesting that Williams switched from writing nautical historical fiction to SF, and that he outlined six stories he felt he finally had the freedom to write in his newly adopted genre (quoting from Williams below):

"A future in which everything went right. (This became my novel Knight Moves.)
A future in which everything went wrong. (This became Hardwired.)
A mystery/thriller. (Voices of the Whirlwind)
A first-contact story. (Angel Station)
A Restoration-style comedy of manners. (The Crown Jewels and its sequels)
A hard-boiled mystery. (Days of Atonement)"

Voice of the Whirlwind is one of these original six SF story lines, and what a story it is!

Voice's protagonist is a wonderfully complex character seeking both identity and ultimately the righting of some wrongs that he takes extremely personally, (though he has to discover what they are, first!). No black and white characterizations here, but I really loved the character of Steward, reminded me a bit of Richard K. Morgan's later Takeshi Kovacs, and with a nice tip of the hat to Felix at end of John Steakley's slightly earlier novel Armor.

So, if you enjoy this kind of damaged and violent hero in all their frustrating complexity, Voice of the Whirlwind is a great choice.

I've now put Hardwired and Angel Station under my belt as well, both excellent in their own right, and will be making my way through all six of the story lines with which Williams started his SF career. One of the things I do notice with Williams is that he is very patient with his character building, especially early in the novels. Sometimes this comes across as a bit too much inward focus, but just when I'm about to resent it, the next major plot twist or crisis comes along and keeps it moving. And I've truly loved all three endings, highly satisfying.

Here's hoping for more 5 Star experiences!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2013
The plot is ingenious (resurrected clone tries to solve who murdered his original body and why, with flashbacks from a horrific ground war), but the writing is too languid. Morgan's book ^Altered Carbon^ has almost the identical story line, but with much flashier writing style, and many more jaw-dropping twists. Had this book been half as long, it would have been twice as interesting.
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