7th Sigma (Jul 2011, Steven Gould, publ. Tor, 978-0-312-87715-6, $24.99, 384pp, hc)
It's rare for me to read a novel in a single sitting, but 7th Sigma managed to hook me in completely.
Have you ever read a novel where the author explains everything twice, then repeats the details a couple more times to really drive the point home? 7th Sigma is not one of those novels. Time skips between chapters, and it's up to the reader to work out how many minutes, months or years just went by. Entire episodes are omitted, maybe teased out of the protagonist, maybe not. It's an unusual form of storytelling, at least to me, but it definitely works.
I rarely write book reviews, and I don't like summarising plots, so let's just say this novel features a young protagonist who grows in stature and cunning, but always remains an enigma to the reader. (And more often than not, to the characters he encounters.)
The world of 7th Sigma is a hard, desolate place with danger lurking in every nook and cranny, and the effect on the reader is intense. Reading this book is like creeping through a dynamite factory with a lit candle in one hand and a live hand grenade in the other - you know something is going to blow up violently but you don't know exactly when.
Thinking back over the setting, the closest I can come is the world of Fallout 3. 7th Sigma has that desperate, post-apocalyptic feel, even though it's not falling nukes which have so thoroughly changed the lives of the inhabitants.
There's a lot here for martial arts fans too, which isn't surprising given the author's background.
I'm Simon Haynes, programmer and author. Welcome to my website.