This kind of reminded me of the Greg Bear book I read recently: very detailed, drops you right in to the story without explaining much, big grand ideas about the future. This one was a little more readable. Just a little, though – it takes a long time (for me, anyway) to decipher the plot.
A thief is in some kind of weird evolving prison, dying every day and being brought back to try to outwit his fellow prisoners over and over. A warrior pilot with a sentient ship is being forced into a mission to free the thief and use his skills for some plot (her wife has been kidnapped, I think? We only ever get flashes of backstory). A planet where all the residents’ memories are swapped and shared like Instagram pics is having a revolution. The thief used to live there, under another name. An amateur detective solves crimes while dating an alien.
All of that took me a dozen chapters to piece together. The point of view jumps from character to character, so the reader only ever knows what that particular character knows. And there are little interludes into the past that feel like they would explain more if I was smarter. The memory planet also has shared time, and sometimes the people who live there are dead, except while they’re dead they’re turned into slave robots until it’s their turn to be alive again. There are super-detailed tangents that turn out to go nowhere. There are glimpses into other worlds and characters that are surely keys to the puzzle, but not explained very well.
I kept reading, though. The writing drew me in, even as I was wading through a confusion of plot lines and barely-there backstories. An example:
The King of Mars can see everything, but there are places where he chooses not to look. Usually, the spaceport is one of them. But today, he is there in person, to kill an old friend.”
See, isn’t that great? That’s the beginning of one of the interludes. I never did figure out who the King of Mars was, or the old friend he was there to kill. But good writing!
I picked this book because of the author’s name, thinking “Hey! Science fiction by a non-white guy!” Nope. White guy with an interesting name. Ah well – the search continues.