Creation Machine, by Andrew Bannister

Second paragraph of third chapter:


Way back in 1989-90, as the world changed forever, I shared a house in Cambridge with a guy called Andrew. Years passed and we fell out of touch, and then it suddenly turned out that he was writing science fiction as a side gig from his environmental consultancy job, and we net for the first time in a quarter of a century at Eastercon in 2016. It is a small world sometimes.

This was his debut book, and I’m sorry to say that I’ve only now got around to reading it. It is jolly good. There are two and a half interlinked plots: one follows the memorable villain, the other the spunky heroine, with flashbacks to explain the history of her relationship with her AI guardian. Both villain and heroine are chasing abandoned ancient tech of mindblowing capability (the eponymous Creation Machine). It’s mostly space opera but leaps into cyberpunk at the end. I found it compellingly written, and I shall get the sequels in the trilogy – though I’m glad to say that this first volume is self-contained. You can get it here.

This was the sf book that had lingered longest unread on my shelves. Next on that pile is The Second ‘If’ Reader, ed. Fredrik Pohl.

This was the first non-Clarke book that I finished reading this month, so now I’m only a week behind. But once the Clarke shortlist is announced, I’m going to start publishing brief reports on the books that I read through to the end but were not shortlisted.