Saturday, 16 January 2016

Review: Knight Moves

Knight Moves Knight Moves by Walter Jon Williams
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Every now and again, I'm in the mood for Walter Jon Williams' deeply thought-through novels of the postsingularity or posthuman condition, despite their tendency to occasional pessimism about love and the human ability to discover meaning.

This is such a novel, and it's a good one. Genetically engineered centaurs represent "wild" or pre-civilized humanity, noble savages speaking Ancient Greek and composing beautiful poetry. Several alien characters, and several human characters, demonstrate the risks of indefinite lifespan: the ennui, the potential solipsism and madness, continuing now-meaningless routines out of habit, and the hope represented by still finding challenges and fresh things to explore.

Even though the plot developments are enabled by not one, but two instances of what could be thought of as deus ex machina (or machinae ex alieni, to be more accurate), I didn't feel they suffered from that. It's the response of the protagonist as much as his struggle that's interesting, and because he has struggled the resolution still feels earned, even though it's supplied by someone else. Not all of the contradictions and dilemmas are neatly resolved, which is also good; if they were, it would raise the question of what would motivate him for the rest of his long life.

An odd issue with the Kindle edition is that quotation marks are frequently missing (usually opening ones). I'm not sure if that's a scanning problem, a typing problem attributable to the author, or what. Otherwise, there are few errors, and the language is smooth and competent.

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