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Absorption: Ragnarok Trilogy, Book 1
John Meaney
Gollancz, 416 pages

John Meaney
John Meaney has a degree in physics and computer science, is a black belt in Shotokan karate and works in IT. He has been reading SF since the age of eight, and his short fiction has appeared in Interzone and in a number of anthologies. His debut novel, To Hold Infinity, was shortlisted for the BSFA Award and subsequently selected as one of The Daily Telegraph's "Books of the Year."

John Meaney Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Bone Song
SF Site Review: To Hold Infinity
SF Site Review: To Hold Infinity
SF Site Review: Paradox
SF Site Interview: A Conversation With John Meaney
SF Site Review: Paradox

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Katherine Petersen

Absorption, the first book in John Meaney's Ragnarok series, also marks a return to the world of the pilots and their infinite city of Labyrinth in mu-space. That said, one doesn't need to have read any of Meaney's other books to enjoy or understand this one. There is a lot going on in these 400+ pages, and perhaps too much, but Absorption is more of a setup novel than a plot novel in which Meaney introduces characters and situations, and much more will hopefully be learned in future installments.

First, there are Roger Blackstone and his parents, who are pilot spies pretending to be regular humans on the future world of Fulgor. Fulgor is comprised of humans and "uplifted" people -- for lack of a better term -- called Luculenti who are bio-engineered to work at incredible paces and mind link with each other. It gives an idea of the Internet's potential.

We also meet a Norseman in the early 7th Century who kills a friend accused of a homosexual act although he was under the influence of a poet who seems to have been under the control of Loki, the trickster god. Magic is definitely afoot here. Throw into this mix a young female, Jewish physicist in the early twentieth century, Gavriela Wulf, who begins her studies at the famous institute where Einstein trained. There's also a research scientist in Earth's future who discovers a sentient alien race and initiates contact.

These individuals appear to have little in common except they all glimpse dark shadows, hear a discordant musical tone and have contact with a silver/crystal being. Somehow their lives are interconnected and they can aid each other. I'm guessing they will all end up as members of the Ragnarok Council, and I look forward to finding out how in future installments. Meaney's writing is clear and concise, making each of his worlds easy to understand, even mu-space becomes intimately familiar even without a physics background. Absorption is an ambitious start to what promises to be a fabulous space opera. Fans of Peter F. Hamilton among others should enjoy these novels. I only wish the book had been longer, so we could have had a better idea of how things will move forward. The plot line that has the most going on is the Blackstone family and will offer a lot of new material for those unfamiliar with Meaney's world. For those who have read the other stories that take place in this world, this book won't offer much new but is still a good set-up for future books in the series.

Copyright © 2012 Katherine Petersen

Katherine Petersen started reading as a young child and hasn't stopped. She still thinks she can read all the books she wants, but might, at some point, realize the impossibility of this mission. While she enjoys other genres, she thrives on fantasy, science fiction and mysteries.

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