Book Quote:

“They arrived at the bridge. He didn’t follow his own advice: there were things in the dark water,l ittle bloated islands that not even the seagulls dared touch. The wind had accumulated a small drift of them on the far bank, beached and slick where the rain beat down on them and cleaned the filth of the lake away.

When the Neva thawed in spring, there were always bodies washing under the Saint Petersburg bridges along the grey lumps of ice. But there was an effort to collect them, identify them, cut holes in the frozen ground and bury them.”

Book Review:

Review by Bill Brody  MAR 29, 2011)

Equations of Life by Simon Morden is a profoundly dystopian romp that takes place approximately twenty years in the future and it is great fun to read. Unlike much of contemporary science fiction, the science is pretty much correct as befits an author with a Ph.D. in planetary geophysics. It is the first in a trilogy, to be followed by Theories of Flight and Degrees of Freedom, all featuring Samuil Petrovitch, scientific genius, physical wreck, reluctant hero, and academic fraud.

Nuclear armageddon occurred twenty-some years ago. Japan sank beneath the ocean; much of the world has been ravaged. Greater London, the Metrozone, is impossibly crowded and horribly crammed with refugees. Hyde Park is a cesspool of diseased, dying and dead derelicts. There is barely room to breathe.

Petrovitch doesn’t want to be involved with anything beyond his work in physics. He is an academic fraud with no formal education. He stole from Russian criminals and is on the run from them. He most certainly does not want to attract attention.

A botched kidnapping of Sonja, a beautiful girl on the subway, triggers a spark of reluctant heroism. Petrovitch grabs Sonja and runs from the kidnappers. While fleeing the kidnappers his life is saved by Madeleine, a giantess of a nun with awesome fighting prowess. Sonja is the beautiful and much-loved daughter of London’s Japanese crime-lord, Oshicora. His passion is to create a virtual Japan, perfect to the last blade of grass, to replace what sunk beneath the ocean as part of the global disaster. Madeleine is described as ”…a nun, fully robed, white veil framing her broad, serious face. A silver crucifix dangled around her neck, and a rosary and a holster hung at her waist. She had the biggest automatic pistol Petrovitch had ever seen clasped in her righteous right hand.”

Petrovitch is a physical wreck. He is dying. His heart has failed and his pacemaker is failing. The Metrozone has been under attack by the New Machine Jihad. This has completely disrupted the Metrozone’s infrastructure. Hearts for transplantation, for example, have rotted since the refrigeration units are all stopped. Bad heart and all, Petrovitch is running around frantically, being shot, beaten and harassed on all sides as he tries to stop the Jihad and save Sonja from her kidnappers.

Between having his heart flat-line periodically and being chased by some of the nastier heavies in the city, he, along with his colleague, Pif, solve the grand unification problem that has eluded theoretical physicists since Einstein, who spent the last twenty years of his life on one futile attempt at a solution after another. We don’t find out much about this theoretical solution beyond the idea that it connects gravity with electromagnetism. We don’t even know if our hero will get a new heart before he dies for good. Madeleine is looking for a replacement heart for Petrovitch while Sonja is on guard in his hospital room, sword across her knees. The novel ends. We catch our breath.

This is a plot seemingly propelled by paranoia and amphetamines. Will artificial intelligence be Frankenstein the monster or will it be benign? Will Petrovitch and Pif’s grand unification theory really solve the fundamental questions of the universe? Will Petrovitch live? Will Petrovitch find true love with Madeleine, the nun? Will Sonja be a complication? Who is Petrovitch, anyway? Will his past catch up with him? I am really looking forward to the rest of the trilogy.

AMAZON READER RATING: stars-3-5from 4 readers
PUBLISHER: Orbit (March 29, 2011)
REVIEWER: Bill Brody
EXTRAS: Excerpt 

The book covers for this series

MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION: Another dim view of the future: 

The Passage by Just in Cronin


Samuil Petrovitch series:

March 29, 2011 · Judi Clark · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: Scifi

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