The Ninjabot

Categorized | Book Reviews, Featured, Reviews

“Osiris” – Can the future ever not be worse?

Posted on August 14, 2012 at 11:45 pm by GKDean

World building is perhaps one of the greatest elements of fantasy and sci-fi. It makes you go, oooooo! and whoooooa! and stupid sounds like that, usually in your mind, sometimes out loud. You love Arrakis, Middle-Earth, Star’s End, Menzoberranzan, and Westeros all because, in some way, you’re able to see it in the mind’s eye. The author did that good of a job.

At the same time, if you’ve ever read any Asimov books, or really any other sci-fi book, you’ll come to realize that we really do love detective stories. Someone is planning something, using something, and we have an entire book to find out who did it, to make sounds like “hmmmmmm,” or even better, like in Storm of Swords, you throw the damn book because you just cannot believe the nonsense.

Osiris by E.J. Swift has both of these elements, and uses them to confuse the hell out of you. The story starts with someone dying (possibly), and someone being drowned (definitely), but really in the end, the mystery for why those two things happened is just the superficial layer. It took me a while to figure out the crux of the book, and what it is is perhaps why I want to read the series. The promise of figuring out the next mystery is enticing.

Oooooo, oooooo, oooooooooo…

So to give the basics, Earth has gone along the routes of Water World with Osiris being the floating city a la SG: Atlantis, designed for the best and the brightest to survive.  The only problem, of course, is that after a few generations, humans are humans and everything has turned into Berlin before the wall came down (read: not fun). The city has devolved into the have and have-nots, with space being a premium.

Always the promise of utopia, always the reality of a dystopia.

The two main characters embody this, and rehash the archetype of rich and poor narratives working in conjunction to develop the mystery. The first—the rich girl—a socialite by the name of Adelaide Rechnov, embodies the entitled utopian ideal and the resulting corruption, or more appropriately stagnation, of Osiris. As for the pauper, Vikram Bai, he serves as the symbol of the social tensions of caged humans, a man who wants to help his ilk—the refugees of the ecological meltdown, the people who were not originally planned on but taken in for better, but definitely worse.

Swift does decent world-building in this aspect, with the world very similar to Israel and the Gaza Strip, a boundary of both culture, language, and death separating them. The plot itself is well-developed, and the two protagonists’ relationship I enjoyed because it is complicated, not at all healthy or quaint, which is right up my alley. It would not work otherwise, and I am always pleased to see variations on romantic themes since usually male writers tend to have men and women act like they’re in the 1950’s or high school.

It took me a while to write this review, and only in writing it did I realize why I liked the book. It’s subtle—very subtle. I was left wanting more, and that is a good thing. I actually bought the hard-back, and I am super cheap, usually going for the paperback versions of books.

So for the next book, there goes my $27.99 minus the 20% teacher discount.

 

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