I’m not a big Sci-Fi fan but I loved this book.
This is another hard one for me to write, partly because this book is so far outside my frame of reference. And maybe that’s one of the reasons I don’t read a lot of science fiction. Because it’s so far outside my frame of reference. It’s odd that I don’t generally enjoy science fiction literature, because I generally love science fiction movies and I like science. Further, science fiction is generally all about big ideas so, really, this should be a genre I love and yet I don’t.
The more I think about this, though, the harder it is for me to understand what it is about science fiction that makes it hard for me to connect with. All fiction is, to an extent, removed from the reader’s frame of reference. That’s sort of the whole point of fiction, to transport the reader to a time or a place or a life that is not his own. In so doing, the author highlights what is universal. Terry Pratchett makes brilliant use of this conceit for satirical purposes in his Discworld books.
So maybe it is a failure of imagination on my part which allows me to move backward or sideways in time, but not forward. Science fiction spends so much time describing a world that is completely foreign to me that I find it hard to find the common thread which allows me to connect with the story. And maybe this is why I enjoyed The Mirrored Heavens, because it is decidedly low-brow and kinetic.
When I say that The Mirrored Heavens is low-brow, I’m only partly disparaging it. It’s not that The Mirrored Heavens doesn’t have any big ideas because it does. It’s a brilliantly rendered world featuring intrigue between various intelligence factions as a terrorist group pushes the 22nd century’s two remaining superpowers to the brink of World War III. This is not, however, a deep, philosophical novel. Nor does it delve deep into the human condition. This is an action novel, pure and simple.
The action grabs the reader right from the first page and hurtles forward, relentlessly until the last. At times, the action is almost too relentless and, if I have a complaint about this book it’s that there are so many near death escapes and the tone is so uniformly tense throughout that it starts to wear thin towards the end. But every one of the extremely short chapters is a cliff-hanger and this keeps you turning the pages at a furious pace.
I described Richard Stark’s The Hunter as a kinetic novel so I suppose that The Mirrored Heavens would properly be described as hyperkinetic. As with The Hunter, the characters are almost entirely external and it is their actions that propel the story. As with The Hunter, the result is a fun, exhilarating book that’s hard to put down.