January 13, 2013
Jack Glass - Adam Roberts
I once described Ian McDonald's three books River Of Gods, Brasyl and The Dervish House as someone tapping directly into my head and writing exactly the sort of Science Fiction I wanted to read. Well Adam Roberts' last three books New Model Army, By Light Alone and Jack Glass feel like someone has tapped directly into my head and written exactly the sort of Science Fiction that I need. Sometimes challenging, sometimes uncomfortable but always great Science Fiction.
If you're just looking for a quick recommendation, go and read Jack Glass, don't bother finding out any more or reading the blurb, just go and read it.
Jack Glass is set up as three whodunnits, but of course it's much more than that. It's a story that gets bigger as it progresses, transitioning from a study of imprisonment, to the future and destiny of mankind and then reminding us that at the core of everything are human beings who live and love.
In common with By Light Alone the story takes a technological solution that should free mankind and then looks at the reasons it could all go wrong. I find this fascinating, it has always been my opinion that the human race is capable of a radical mindset shift, I do not believe in human nature, and it is my opinion that technological revolution of a drastic kind could very well be the catalyst for this mindset change. Adam Roberts however posits that the technological change will reinforce the old ways and that revolution will be needed afterwards to force the evolution or mindset shift. In By Light Alone it is being able to subsist on sunlight alone. In Jack Glass it is the ability to create endless living space using spheres in space, along with food that can grow simply using water. Now you can solve two of the major problems facing Earth, where are people going to live and what are they going to eat. Now humanity can spread throughout the solar system. But will everything change? Will anything change?
Jack Glass is a multi-dimensional novel. It contains mystery, it contains lots of ideas about the future of the human race, it contains politics and action and a coming of age story. I constantly found myself thinking,"wow I need to think about that for a bit", not because it was hard to follow, or technically or intellectually difficult, but because it sparked me thinking about stuff.
Satisfyingly it is also wrapped up with a lovely, real, resolution that adds a further thread to think about, that in fact sheds new light on the entire story gone before.
Great stuff. Loved it.