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Hard work with moments of reading joy
on September 10, 2012
This was by no means a quick read - not only are the references arcane to the point of incomprehensibility, the plot is not so much constructed but thrown together, a sequence of nonsensical events that build up to non-climaxes and finally ends on a rather soppy note. That being said, the writing is excellent, and some of these sequences or plot segments are great fun - the moments of sheer absurdity proliferate, but continue to surprise and amuse.
The protagonist - a misanthropic Luddite Welshman living on a post-Singularity Earth where humans no longer die, but choose to be 'uploaded' to the Cloud, where they continue a virtual (and extremely tacky) existence - is extremely annoying for most of the text. Deeply passive, he is (often literally) dragged from one horrendous and painful experience to the next, continuously requiring rescue like an old-fashioned princess. (Note: Extremely graphic descriptions of various forms of torture and injury abound - somewhat gratuitous, in my opinion.) In each adventure, he is expected to 'save the world' in some way or another (the threats becoming increasingly dire), and thus finds himself (sometimes herself - gender is a construct, after all) in the odd position of having to defend a mankind he despises.
If you're looking for light, amusing sci-fi, turn elsewhere - this novel both requires and frustrates your full attention. It does have its rewards, but, unless you're fully conversant with all things gaming and internet-related, I'm not sure if the rewards are worth the slog.