3 journalers for this copy...
Horza is a Changer, a species able to change their physical appearance to mimic anyone. He works for the Idirans, who at war with The Culture. When a culture Mind, a super intelligent, sentient machine, escapes an exploding ship, Horza is sent to retrieve it, as it has taken refuge on a Planet of the Dead. No-one is allowed to visit the planet without its keeper's permission, but Horza has been there before and there is a good chance he will get in again. But first he has to escape from an Orbital that is about to be blown up, if he isn't eaten by cannibalistic refugees, fool a ship into thinking he is its captain, and fly away without the Culture spotting him. And that's before he even starts looking to the Mind.
There is a huge amount to absorb in this book, but it is written in such a great style that you don't notice that you have done so until you get to the end. Chapter 12 and 13 are probably the best, just because they are so fast-paced that they drag you along, skipping from viewpoint to viewpoint as the action hots up. The actual ending itself is a bit of a let down - I prefer hppy endings, but then I'm a bit of sap - yet it works fantastically with the rest of the book. One that every SF fan should be forced to read!!
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
And thank you for the Christmas wishes, the yummy chocolate, and all of the bookplates! I was running low on bookplates and hadn’t gotten around to making more and was thinking of placing an order to the BC store in the new year (will do so anyway, of course :-D).
This was such a fantastic, wonderful surprise for the holiday! Thanks again!
Both sides of the war are not ideal allies and Horza’s choice in why he chooses the Idirans is not always clear. Be another hedonistic citizen kept almost as a pet by the far superior machines or help the religious zealots that care little for the individual and probably less for other species.
In the end, the book doesn’t end how I’d like it to end, but it is how I thought it would go.
Recommended for lovers of hard sci-fi, space operas, politics, spies, and/or unusual torture/killing techniques (some too gross/horrific for some to handle! Be warned!).
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Released in the Science Fiction Bookbox.
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Later: Fascinating mix of SF and culture-clash, opening with a scene that could have come directly from a really deadly Dungeons and Dragons scenario: protagonist Horza, a "Changer", has taken on the appearance of an aged minister from the Gerontocracy, but was captured and is now held in a death-trap: he's chained to the wall of a chamber that fills from the castle's sewer system, and his captors knew just how to bind him so he couldn't use his many skills to escape. Even his ability to change has its limits and takes time, a nice game-balance element (I'm thinking D&D again). Since he is the protagonist it's not surprising that he gets away, but it occurs via intervention from a dangerous rival, leading to a delicate dance of diplomacy, violence, subterfuge, pirates (!), alliances and betrayals - and, yes, the attempt to win the confidence of the rogue AI "Mind"...
[There's a TV Tropes page on the novel, with some interesting tidbits.]
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
I plan to leave this book on a bench or window ledge outside Tuscan Kitchen, near the junction of Main and Broadway, while stopping by for dinner; hope someone enjoys the book!
[See other recent releases in NH here.]
*** Released for the 2021 September Sapphire challenge. ***
*** Released for the 2021 Talk Like a Pirate challenge, in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day. ***
*** Released for the 2021 Science Fiction challenge. ***
*** Released for the 2021 Keep Them Moving challenge. ***