Thursday, November 7, 2013

China Mountain Zhang

China Mountain Zhang

Maureen F. McHugh

Reviewed by Zorena

Four Stars


Winner of the James Tiptree, Jr. Memorial Award, the Lambda Literary Award, the Locus Award for Best First Novel, and a Hugo and Nebula Award nominee.
With this groundbreaking novel, Maureen F. McHugh established herself as one of the decade's best science fiction writers. In its pages, we enter a postrevolution America, moving from the hyperurbanized eastern seaboard to the Arctic bleakness of Baffin Island; from the new Imperial City to an agricultural commune on Mars. The overlapping lives of cyberkite fliers, lonely colonists, illicit neural-pressball players, and organic engineers blend into a powerful, taut story of a young man's journey of discovery. This is a macroscopic world of microscopic intensity, one of the most brilliant visions of modern SF.

My review

I'm not sure what I expected from this book but considering all its awards and nominations I was hoping it was legitimately good. I got what I hoped for. While I love space opera and action styled science fiction, I also love a good character driven story. This falls into the latter category.

I gravitate towards the more specific genres of science fiction such as dystopian, post apoc and cyber punk because they are topics that I've put some thought into. So has McHugh. A Chinese dominated dystopian society is not one I've even considered and add into the mix the fact that the main character is also gay. It made for some really good backdrop, dialogue and therefore good reading. It could even be said this is an alternate universe as it doesn't feel like a distant future.

There are many subplots that almost weave into one. All of them do touch on the main character at one point or another but not all are resolved or are they resolved very obliquely. Which didn't seem to matter to me because I was so caught up in Zhang's character.

I also loved the glimpses into some future or possible current tech. Nothing too earth shattering but the swim suits were a fascinating concept and totally plausible. I'm glad I delved into this book before I ventured into some other current dystopian novels where the emphasis seems to be more on the physical horror.

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