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Edge (2010)

by Thomas Blackthorne(Favorite Author)
3.57 of 5 Votes: 1
0007349718 (ISBN13: 9780007349715)
Angry Robot
Josh Cumberland
review 1: Due to school and other responsibilities, this review has been longer in the makes than I would have liked. That said, I’ve wanted to write a review about Edge since I started reading it. It was recommended to me by an editor at Electric Velocipede (send them well-wishes! Bring the Velocipede back!), and I’m glad for her recommendation. Though I had to put Edge aside a few times to read other stuff for school, I was always eager to come back.I’ll start by saying this: Edge is much more than the blurb on the back of the book would suggest. It is a cyber-punk novel that celebrates the best hacker movies you can remember, as well as being an intelligent (if not over-enthusiastic) examination of our technocracy’s infatuation with smart phones, and it is even a commenta... morery on the absurdity of modern politics. With so much combined into a comparatively short novel, it isn’t any surprise that Edge is a break-neck adventure romp across the crumbling nigh-dystopian remnants of a London.Thomas Blackthorne, who I have never heard of before picking up Edge, is a writer with a crazy sense of pace. His writing moves along at the speed of a bullet, with quiet, contemplative scenes placed right where they need to be, and always with a good sense of what the reader needs. His actions scenes remind of me of the fights in The Bourne Identity, the first one, the one before the shaky-cam got annoying. They’re fresh, clipped well, and use solid dramatic description.Speaking of drama, there is a distinct romance here. If you’re looking for an ass-grabbing race, this might not be the book you want. As much as I laud the pacing, it isn’t necessarily break-neck all the time. These are the contemplative breaks I was talking about. The main character (arguably) Josh, and another major focal character, Suzanne, are right up to the hips with mutual infatuation, despite Josh’s impending divorce in the wake of his daughter’s persistent vegetative state. The scenes between Josh and Suzanne are filled with adolescent, puppyish-love (and I know adolescent, damn it, I just left that party… fresh memories and what not). By no means do I imply that they are poorly written or are awkwardly jammed into the narrative; on the contrary, they work perfectly fine. I’m just warning you. There is some adult language here and there. Also, is a top-level military specialist even capable of romantic fancy? I thought those kinds of guys (who are honed killing/espionage machines and little else, like Josh appears to be) just come home and stare at the wall when they’re not deployed. Guys who live to answer the phone call from the government. Spooks. Yeah. Josh, the arguable main focal character in Edge, is a high-echelon espionage agent from a team called “Ghost Force” that operates somewhere outside and in tandem with MI-5 and MI-6, the British intelligence agencies that make their home in what I can only call a spectacular building. See to the right. Suzanne, the other adult focal character in the novel, is a hypnotist with a psychologist’s training. Or is it the other way around? She employs a very sci-fi’ish version of psychology that allows her to drop patients (and non-patients, it seems) into suggestive trances. This makes her appear to have telepathic powers, inducing in Josh an array of emotions, and leaving the reader often wondering if she isn’t manipulating far deeper than she seems to be. But that’s for you to decide.A third focal character, and a foil for the adult viewpoints, is Richie Broomhall, a runaway rich-kid who explores London’s garbage-strewn slums and gekrunning underground. Where the other two characters seem to be balanced between intelligent, professional, and human, Richie lacks the keen focus that Josh and Suzanne have. Perhaps that is because Richie doesn’t have an operative vocabulary like the others, but reading him was less interesting and less pleasurable than reading the other two. Another factor that added to that perception was the fact that every time a knife or blade is mentioned (or shown, or implied), Richie goes catatonic and throws up due to his deep fear of scalpels and blades. This is of course explained in the book’s new age psychological pseudoscience, but it never really seems to come together properly.That’s a problem, because most of this book comes together quite nicely. The plot is understandable, doesn’t waste words, and the other two major characters are for the most part, intriguing enough on their own that I didn’t roll my eyes when I thumbed into their chapters (though there was some eye-rolling with some of the adolescence on Josh’s behalf). Richie’s unbalancing factors may throw readers for a loop.Another thing that may throw some readers for a loop is the suspension of disbelief required in order to accept that Josh’s hacking skills are as pro as Blackthorne pens them. Josh sidesteps private, local and government-grade security measures as if he were side-stepping a block castle made by a two year old. The author does go into some detail, which gives a better sense of verisimilitude (read: believability) to the whole thing, but I was occasionally kind of thrown off by the character’s depthless technical prowess… all from what I can only assume is the iPod’s Thor-powered cousin.Anyway. I consider myself a relatively discerning reader, and I found a few formatting flaws here and there. I submit that it may have been my Amazon Kindle displaying the lines improperly, but for the most part it was paragraphs cut or broken up oddly. I could discern where they were supposed to go, and it never caused anything more than a momentary, “Kindle, Y U no display properly?” but it wasn’t a big deal. There are very few spelling and/or grammar errors, which is good. Many e-books tend to be fudged in translation somehow, but it appears this book was converted directly from a digital file.The cover is also a clever way of advertising Angry Robot Books. Kudos for that clever bit of marketing, whoever thought that one up.Summary Comments:Edge is an action thriller with a great sense of self and purpose. The characters are suitably rounded out, and their relationships are believable, if not a tad juvenile. The book’s setting—garbage-strewn London in the middle of a massive recession and teamster strike—is well-recognized and intriguing, though some more detail as to the development of current events would have been appreciated it. The book has such a focus on smart phone integration that I’m not entirely certain if Blackthorne is celebrating or criticizing the current smart phone bloom, but it is definitely an interesting exercise in a What If? Angry Robot Books has the book fairly priced, especially for e-readers. If you like action novels, crime novels, or near-future SF, I recommend it. If you’re terrified of the idea of privacy invasion by surveillance, you might want to stay away.
review 2: I really enjoyed this. It's set in a near-future that has a fantastically imagined world. There is a fair bit of world-building throughout the book but it is well-done and really fascinating. I had a bit of an issue with the shift the book took about halfway though, but it was entertaining in the end and I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series. Basically the first half is "realistic story that gets you familiar with the world" but then it pretty abruptly shifts to "unrealistic epic action" but starring the same two main characters from the first half.For $4.69 on Amazon Kindle, you can't really go wrong with this, though. less
Reviews (see all)
Speculative Fiction - 10-to-15 yrs in the future. Good writer. Action/Military more than SF.
Fun quick read. Felt like Altered Carbon, or a Heroes die sort of book.
Pretty good quick read.
Go get this book.
My rating: 4.5
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