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Crashing Heaven door Al Robertson
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Crashing Heaven (editie 2015)

door Al Robertson (Auteur)

LedenBesprekingenPopulariteitGemiddelde beoordelingAanhalingen
835260,217 (3.32)5
With Earth abandoned, humanity resides on Station, an industrialised asteroid run by the sentient corporations of the Pantheon. Under their leadership a war has been raging against the Totality - ex-Pantheon AIs gone rogue. With the war over, Jack Forster and his sidekick Hugo Fist, a virtual puppet tied to Jack's mind and created to destroy the Totality, have returned home. Labelled a traitor for surrendering to the Totality, all Jack wants is to clear his name but when he discovers two old friends have died under suspicious circumstances he also wants answers. Soon he and Fist are embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not only their future but all of humanity's. But with Fist's software licence about to expire, taking Jack's life with it, can they bring down the real traitors before their time runs out?… (meer)
Lid:Llama_Bill
Titel:Crashing Heaven
Auteurs:Al Robertson (Auteur)
Info:Gollancz (2015), 369 pages
Verzamelingen:Jouw bibliotheek
Waardering:
Trefwoorden:The Station, Kindle

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Crashing Heaven door Al Robertson

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Toon 5 van 5
I love my Cyberpunk. I love Post-Cyberpunk even more. This here is a very well-crafted Hard-
SF novel that is a surprisingly easy read.

I can blame most of the ease and the goodness squarely on the interactions between Jack and Fist. Jack's been screwed over by the Pantheon's contracts and Fist, his erstwhile puppet, his slaved AI, is scheduled to legally take over poor Jack. The war between the Totality (The post-mortality humans who had given themselves godlike virtual powers) and the Pantheon (The machine legal entity and alien that has quashed the chaos and the squabbling of the egos) ended with the Totality forced into civilized behavior and low men on the totem pole always seem to get stuck with the shaft.

That's where Jack, the stand-in for what might be loosely called a Hard-Boiled Detective, but isn't, or isn't really such, has been saddled with a huge debt to the now defunct corporation that had given him the extremely good use of a virtual puppet, an excellent hacking machine, but after the contract defaulted, he was left in debt to the last surviving entity, and since he had no funds or collateral, the puppet will soon own Jack's body and mind. Leaving Jack... nowhere.

If someone told me this was going to be a strange and f-k'd up twist on the story of Pinocchio set in a time and place where the shades of the uploaded dead haunt the overlay-mesh, the virtual view of reality, where gods play long games in the ubiquitous and utterly pervasive servers that humanity lives within, then I'd have said... "Wow. That sounds freaking amazing." (No one did.)

Of course, if I had been given the spoilers that follow this little setup, or at least the idea that Jack and Fist find common ground in the short time they have left, that they hunt down the people behind the conspiracies, to get out from under the machinations of gods and aliens, and that they don't always remain in hard place, but manage to hold their own against amazing odds, then I'd have absolutely no reason to worry about whether I'd enjoy the tale.

As a matter of fact, I was AMAZED. It's full of awesomely tight storytelling, great conversations, fast plotting, and of course so much happens that propels this story into the stratosphere that I was left with my jaw dropping through most of the tale.

But let me add a small caveat: Out of all SF, I appreciate and love near-singularity or post-post cyberpunk tales the most out of the entire genre. Anything that sparks my imagination and revs my engines this much is going to be an automatic "Hey You Guys!" But don't let that fool you overmuch.

This one is tight and sharp as hell and a pure delight to glide through. It really ought to be on the short list for anyone's "must awe" list. I've still got Jack and Fist in my head, playing around and learning to live and trust one another. It's a classic. These are truly wonderful characters that won't even be outdone by the huge action scenes and surprises. So what do I say to that? I say Rock ON. :)

I can't believe that this is Al Robertson's debut. Something tells me that he's going to be on my "must read immediately" list from now on. :) ( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
This book creates a whole new genre: cyberpunk noir. It's an outstanding sci-fi story, an outstanding noir mystery, and an outstanding read!

What’s left of humanity lives aboard an enormous asteroid transformed into a collection of habitats, called Docklands, the Homelands, and Heaven. Station is controlled by the Pantheon, a group of sentient corporation AIs, who act as patron deities for the Station’s inhabitants. War broke out between the Pantheon and rebel AIs (the Totality) but, after years of fighting throughout the entire solar system, the war was won by the Totality, and defeated soldiers are returning to Station in disgrace. Among these is Jack Forster, a soldier charged with treason by Station authorities, along with the crimes terrorist attacks that have plagued Station. He has the power for these terrorist acts, since Forster is a “Puppeteer” with an overly aggressive, vulgar-mouthed combat AI installed inside him named Hugo Fist.

Fist spends his time in Forster’s head, yelling insults, cussing, cracking foul jokes, urging Forster to perform malicious deeds, but he also embodies himself as an innocent-looking ventriloquist dummy. In a few weeks, Fist’s software license runs out, and will take over Forster’s body after his mind is wiped clean. Before this happens, Forster has returned to Station to find out who murdered his closest friends. This case takes him on a terrifying journey, deep into Station’s secrets, watched by the Pantheon and the Totality’s shock troops.

Al Robertson has a vivid imagination which he uses to create an astonishing vision of a corrupted humanity under attack from within and without. Station, and it’s internet-like “weave” is wonderfully imagined. The bleakness of the novel’s setting is offset by Hugo Fist’s comedic interludes and interruptions. Even with his murderous personality, he becomes a likeable and intimate character.

The story is momentum-building from the get-go. I’ll admit that I was lost for the early part of the book, with absolutely no idea of what was going, where it was happening, and who I was watching. I’m glad I stuck with it! The finale is a breathless race of gruesome violence (both real and imagined), wild conspiracies, crosses and double-crosses, and rapidly changing virtual landscapes. Jack’s relationship with Hugo develops into an ultra-complex give-and-take; it quickly becomes apparent how much each has to lose if they fail this investigation.

I listened to the Audible version, and the narration was very good. Thomas Judd is very adept at portraying distinct voices, from the child-like voice of Hugo Fist to the god-like voices of the Pantheon, and everything in between. His British accent added an interesting twist to the story.

Crashing Heaven is highly original, packed full of wonderfully horrific ideas and extraordinary characters. Al Robertson’s debut novel is a fantastic achievement. ( )
  ssimon2000 | May 7, 2018 |
The trade paperback of this, among several others, was being given away free at Mancunicon, the 2016 Eastercon, so I grabbed myself a copy because, well, free. And, you know, it’s twenty-first century space opera and I still pretend to like that – although it does seem like increasingly fewer of them float my boat, as it were. Crashing Heaven is a case in point. It ticks all the boxes for 21st-century space opera, but that to me felt like more of a handicap than an advantage. Forster is an ex-soldier and POW, returning home to the Station after the cessation of hostilities with a collective of AIs who apparently dropped a rock on a lunar outpost that happened to be hosting a children’s schooltrip. (They denied doing it, of course.) Implanted inside Forster is an AI called Hugo Fist, which was designed to kill AIs (in that sort of handwavey computing cyber warfare bollocks that sf seems to love) and which manifests as an old-style music hall ventriloquist’s dummy. Unfortunately, due to some contract shenanigans, Fist is due to soon take-over Forster’s body, effectively killing him. Worse, Forster thinks the AIs are innocent of the lunar rock thing (I mean, come on, it’s obvious right from the start they didn’t do it). It’s all a plot, of course, by the “gods” of the Station – who are apparently uploaded humans so sociopathic they refuse the same existence and abilities to every other human, which to me is just putting a sf spin on slavery. And that’s pretty much the world of the Station – slavery, genocide, megaviolence, the usual 21st century science fiction crap. Not interested. Crashing Heaven is apparently the first book in a series. I won’t be reading the sequels. ( )
  iansales | Jan 12, 2018 |
In this future, computer intelligences are neither servants nor enemies of mankind. They have become gods. Seemingly benevolent, corporate, near omnipotent entities. And like the old gods of myth they are as indulgent and feckless and untrustworthy as any independent individual with its own agenda.

Humanity meanwhile lives in a multi-layered artificial habitat, submerged in the digital world of the weave. There’s a truce in place with the AIs of the outer solar system; mistrusted for their alternative philosophies and attitudes. Into a none-too-stable political situation, a prisoner of war is released back into society. A cyber-soldier with very particular gifts for hard hacks and tactical accountancy. And he carrier a passenger, a software suite which in a matter of months will own the meatware, killing the human inhabitant in the process.

So Jack has, pretty much, come home to bid farewell to his loved ones before he dies and the petty, powerful, petulant and impulsive puppet Hugo Fist takes the reins. What follows is a brilliantly-written exploration of this bewildering and beguiling world, and a neatly nuanced development of their relationship as they’re sucked back into a criminal investigation in which all the gods have a personal interest.

(There's more details on the plot and characters over at
https://murdermayhemandmore.wordpress.com/2015/08/20/crashing-heaven-a-clash-of-...)

Author Robertson runs wild with the theme of what it is to be an individual, to be alive, to be sentient; dredging the possible depths of what accidental evil the living might do to the digital memories of the dead in their attempts to assuage their grief and loss. Bigotry, racism, narcissism, narcotic abuse and myriad other aspects of current culture are magnified in a future which is brilliantly realised and deftly described.

There’s also a pretty decent mystery to resolve; a supporting cast of characters you’d like to spend more time with, and some wonderful creations – the visualisation of digital attack dogs, in particular. By the end of it, I’d even warmed somewhat to Fist, although Jack remained more of an unfulfilled character – odd, for the notional protagonist – who seemed largely incapable without the skills of his digital daemon.

Even so, Crashing Heaven gripped me from its opening moments through to the final pages. It’s imaginative, accessible and rewarding on many levels. More, please…
8/10 ( )
  RowenaHoseason | Jun 22, 2016 |
Cyberpunk and I don’t always make the best bedfellows, but when I read the description to Crashing Heaven I just knew I had to check it out. Published in the UK, I’d initially decided to either get it shipped from overseas or wait patiently to see if it’ll eventually get a release date this side of the Atlantic. To my happy surprise though, I later discovered on the publisher website that it was actually available in the US in audio format. I very excitedly requested a review copy.

What I got was exactly what the description promised, a novel that hits relentlessly hard, fast and without mercy. I could sense the influence of William Gibson and classic cyberpunk in its bleak narrative about a future of an abandoned Earth, AI wars, and people living in augmented reality. After spending years in prison, protagonist Jack Forster is a soldier who returns home with two things: a reputation as a traitor for surrendering to the Totality, and a virtual puppet named Hugo Fist tethered to his mind. Designed as a weapon to fight the enemy, Fist is a combat-AI which would eventually expire and take Jack’s personality and effectively his life with it.

All Jack wants to do is to clear his name, but upon his return to Station, he discovers that while he was away, two of his old friends have met with suspicious deaths. One of them is a former lover, spurring Jack to get to the bottom of this mystery and find those responsible before his time runs out.

The story can be a bit confusing, though to be fair, I have a history of being frustrated with cyberpunk. While Crashing Heaven may be a much easier read than a lot of other books in the genre, I still found many of its ideas abstract and hard to follow, such as trying to imagine Fist as a puppet that mostly exists inside Jack’s head but which can also be “pulled” out to manifest in a form similar to that of a ventriloquist dummy. The writing is also rough in places and not always sufficient when it comes to giving descriptions, which added to my difficulty.

However, I was also impressed by a lot of ideas in this book. Using Fist as an example again, it’s hard to reconcile the fact that such an innocuous-looking puppet can also be such a deadly weapon, with one hell of a potty-mouth on him to boot. The world is a rich tableau of both wonder and bleakness, where myth mixes with virtual reality. Mysterious entities worshipped as gods walk among the populace and grant favor to the faithful. The dead can return in “Fetches”, bodies housing the memories of the departed so that the living can spend more time with those who have passed on. Almost every aspect of the world-building is multi-faceted and gave me a lot to think about.

Still, probably my favorite part about the book is the relationship between Jack and Fist, the complex dynamic between them and the way it evolves as the story progresses. Forever linked together, the nature of their interactions range from the humorous to the grotesque. You can never predict what Fist might say or do next, which might be exasperating for Jack but it works great for a reader watching these exchanges play out. They inject a fait bit of lightness to this otherwise gritty and despairing story.

Narrator Thomas Judd can also be credited for making the Jack-and-Fist alliance the highlight of this audiobook. His performance was overall decent but nothing too remarkable – except for one thing: his Fist voice. It was perfect. It also helped a lot, considering how much of the book is made up of Jack and Fist going back and forth in conversation.

Apart from a few flaws, Crashing Heaven was a good book. The writing may be awkward at times and the plot is convoluted in places, but the entertainment value in the story makes up for that. Furthermore, dedicated fans of cyberpunk will probably like this even more than I did, so if you love the genre, definitely consider checking out Al Robertson’s unique debut. ( )
1 stem stefferoo | Jul 27, 2015 |
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» Andere auteurs toevoegen (2 mogelijk)

AuteursnaamRolType auteurWerk?Status
Al Robertsonprimaire auteuralle editiesberekend
Judd, ThomasVertellerSecundaire auteursommige editiesbevestigd

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With Earth abandoned, humanity resides on Station, an industrialised asteroid run by the sentient corporations of the Pantheon. Under their leadership a war has been raging against the Totality - ex-Pantheon AIs gone rogue. With the war over, Jack Forster and his sidekick Hugo Fist, a virtual puppet tied to Jack's mind and created to destroy the Totality, have returned home. Labelled a traitor for surrendering to the Totality, all Jack wants is to clear his name but when he discovers two old friends have died under suspicious circumstances he also wants answers. Soon he and Fist are embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not only their future but all of humanity's. But with Fist's software licence about to expire, taking Jack's life with it, can they bring down the real traitors before their time runs out?

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