A small sample of those hundreds
(thousands?) of books waiting to be
Monday, January 11, 2016
Mini-Review: Zero World by Jason M. Hough
Some background information that you probably won’t care about:
I’ve seen a fair bit of buzz around the books of Jason M. Hough, particularly his first trilogy (The Dire Earth Cycle) which is a form of military science fiction that I’ve just never found myself in the mood for, even though I have full trilogy collecting dust on a bookcase. Anyway, I had that privilege to meet Jason when he visited Arizona last year and converse over a beer or two (I’m still rather unhappy that I had forgotten his books to get them signed). So, I will be completely honest, I read his book because we had beers together – yes, I had copies of his books and yes, they seemed like fun books to read. But the distinguishing feature that made me read his book over the hundreds of others I have lying around my office was that I met him in person and enjoyed our conversations. And it didn’t hurt that in an earlier conversation that I had with Brian Staveley, Brian had very positive things to say about Zero World. Yes, book tours matter. Yes, there are sometimes ‘perks’ to being a blogger. And yes, I hope to meet Jason again, converse over more drinks, and hopefully I’ll remember to bring books for him to sign.
Zero World intrigued me initially because it sounded like a fun and interesting take on a spy thriller in a near-future science fiction world. Basically, and Asian James Bond in the future. And initially, that is exactly what Zero World is – a fun and interesting take on the spy thriller where our spy/assassin has his memory wiped after every mission. There are some interesting bits about the whole memory reset process, the moral ambiguity that comes from being a successful assassin with no memory of his actions, and of course just who is the ‘god’ voice in this assassin’s head and what are their motivations. This, and our assassin gets a physical boost in speed, strength, and healing through some nice chemical enhancements.
But, even though all of that is more than enough for its own story, it gets bigger. Before long, this near-future SF book becomes ‘portal’ SF to a parallel world, with things ending up in a near Space Opera scope, though we still see it all through our Bond-like assassin. Then we begin to see things through the eyes of another spy from the parallel world. With the broadening of the scope comes a broadening of exploration – our assassin questions his morals, his goals, his purpose. In parallel we learn to question the motivations of others, particularly those in power. The further up the proverbial tower of power, the worse things seem to be. In this respect, Zero World is a fresh take on old ideas.
But, don’t let me get too deep here, because I run the risk of skipping over the true strengths of this book. It’s the pacing – a lot of things happen fast. This is about 3 books in 1, and it works. Zero World keeps the adrenaline flowing, the mind begging to know what comes next, and it won’t let you go to sleep. This is entertainment. This is fun. And I can’t wait to see what comes next.
So, as usual, no plot summary here. And as is (sadly) becoming more and more common with my reviews, it’s rather short and doesn’t dig in as I like to do. But, in the end it doesn’t matter. In the end, a review is an opinion, and in my opinion, Zero World is great book written by a great guy.
Zero World (Amazon)
The Dire Earth Cycle
The Darwin Elevator (Amazon)
The Exodus Towers (Amazon)
The Plague Force (Amazon)