I found this to be amazingly detailed and well-composed, very descriptive and easy to get lost in. In fact, I would risk another book by this author. That said, there were some deeply disturbing aspects to the book, one might say sick, that had to be endured to reach the end which lured so compellingly, a lamprey lure in the dark. Much like the sharp-toothed fish of the deeps, the ending bites.
This is a difficult novel. Harrison's prose is meaty, but that is not where the difficulty lies; his characters are unlikeable, and while that is a challenge, it is not insurmountable. The main difficulty lies in the novel's structure -- much of it is an elaborate smoke screen, ultimately having little to no effect on the resolution. This also makes the novel particularly difficult to review, as its true nature doesn't become evident until the last four chapters, but any mention of what is in those chapters (and what is in those chapters will make or break the novel for most readers) constitutes a giant spoiler.
Alas, I am committed to writing reviews that are as spoiler-free as possible, so I will focus on what the novel focuses on, which is that smoke screen.
The novel consists of alternating chapters from three perspectives, two sociopaths and one junkie. All three are running from something, and most of the novel is spent figuring out what they are running from and what turned them into sociopaths/junkies. In this sense the novel is akin to a character study, and I suspect it will work best for those people who generally like character studies. (I am one of those people, but I will admit it didn't work particularly well for me in this aspect because I'm not a big fan of sociopaths and junkies.) One perspective is set in contemporary England & America, with just enough detail to be immediately recognizable, and the other two are set in 2400 A.D., which is a future with plenty of SF world-building that Harrison spends very little time describing -- the world is catch-as-you-can, and readers who aren't used to hard SF will likely be hopelessly confused at points while readers who are used to these sort of milieus will be able to fill in the blanks fairly easily. There is some action, but most of the novel is spent getting into these peoples' heads.
But at its heart, and despite the first 350 pages, Light isn't a character study. It's a Big Idea story, and its Big Idea is what constitutes the spoiler, so I have to talk around it. The jacket description actually does as much as it can to help readers to that Big Idea -- it doesn't describe the set-up and first act like most jacket descriptions, but instead provides clues to the elements astute readers need to keep track of in order to decipher the resolution. That resolution will determine whether the novel succeeds or fails for most readers, so anyone who attempts this novel needs to be prepared to read it to the end to give it a fair shot, and unfortunately even reading to the end will not guarantee that you will like it. Ultimately, I decided I did not like the resolution Harrison provides, but I get it, and I can see why other people love it, and I will defend his pure craft that went into making this book. This is the rare novel I will recommend despite not having enjoyed it.
I have had this book awhile to read and finally picked it up. It's a very interesting book but somewhat hard to follow and understand. I am still trying to kind of figure out what happened here.
I listened to this on audiobook. It is part of the Neil Gaiman presents series. The narrator did a decent job of narrating it.
The book follows three main characters. The first is Michael Kearney who is a physicist and serial killer. He thinks he is being chased by a creature called the Schrander and that the serial killing he does keeps the Scrander at bay. Michael's story is set in 1999.
The second character is Seria Mau Genlicher; Seria Mau is a cybernetically modified woman who operates a K-ship as a merc. Seria Mau has received a mysterious package that is supposed to allow her to be more human again and is trying to track down the source of the package to figure out how it works.
The third character is Ed Chianese. Ed is a former thrill-seeker and current Tank junkie (VR immersion tanks that providing new experiences for users). He is a bit lost in many ways and ends up finding work at a circus run by Sandra Chen. Both Seria Mau and Ed's stories take place in 2400AD.
As I mentioned I am still trying to kind of figure out what this book was about. Neil Gaiman provided a nice foreword which gives some good initial description and summary to help ground the reader a bit before starting the story, which was nice.
The book is filled with spectacular descriptions and creative ideas. However it was kind of all over the place and threw tons of terminology at you without ever really explaining anything.
All of the characters are pretty dark and depressing with addictions, mental issues, and general instability being the major portions of their personalities. All the stories do end up tying together somewhat; the Schrander ends up being a connecting theme between all of these characters.
There is a lot of ambiguity to the story and a lot of things left unexplained. It is possible I missed some the explanations because I had a lot of issue with staying focused on the story because of all the unexplained terminology. You never really find out what the Light is and why it affects the cats the way it does. I also never really understood what The Schrander was or where it came from or what its purpose was. Additionally I never really understood exactly what the Shadow Operators were.
Overall this was an okay story. There are some very creative ideas in here and excellent description throughout. This is definitely one of those books that I will think back on often because my mind is still trying to unravel all the connections and unexplained aspects of it. I didn't enjoy the depressing and damaged characters or the large volume of unexplained terminology that was thrown at the reader. I usually don't mind my stories a bit ambiguous; but this book went too far for me and wandered outside of ambiguity into confusion at points. I am honestly not sure whether to recommend this or not. If you like mind-bending sci fi that is a bit hard to decipher you might enjoy this.
not my thing, couldn't finish it.
Three quantum outlaws face a universe of their own creation...............