James McStravick reviews Into Everywhere by Paul McAuley, book 2 in the Choice series.
Humanity’s future has been disrupted and shaped by the mysterious alien Jackaroo. We spread to the planets they gave us, and we discovered the ruins of a dozen previous civilisations. All previous clients of the Jackaroo, all dead. So far we have escaped that fate – but we have also escaped from the Jackaroo’s planets and begun to explore the galaxy. The discovery of ancient spaceships, and the unlocking of their mysteries, has led to a new way of life. But humanity’s failings and conflicts are always with us.
A woman living a quiet secluded life, with only her dog and her demons for company. The dissolute heir to a powerful merchant family. The laminated brain of the woman who led us into the universe. A policeman, seemingly working for the Jackaroo. All of these people are on the edges of a vast plan, one which will span decades and light years. A piece of alien code has awakened, and the end of our species may be happening around us.
And we may finally discover if the aliens really are here to help us.
Shortly after receiving Into Everywhere, I realised that it was a sequel. This worried me slightly as I hadn’t read the first book, Something Coming Through, but after doing some research and actually starting the book, I realised that Into Everywhere can be read without knowing too much about the first book. Phew.
The fact that I was able to pick up this book without having read the first one was one of the things that impressed me, as there are many books out there that require you to have read and know absolutely everything about the world to completely understand it. But Into Everywhere is able to give you all the detail and story of a great book without having to know too much about all the back story.
Into Everywhere is classed as a hardcore SF book, which can frighten some people off. Sometimes people are wary about whether or not to dive into this genre, due to some books of the same genre being very complex and difficult to read if you’re not in the right mind frame. I myself would generally be in the crowd of people who are wary of hardcore SF, but from the moment I picked up this book and read the first few chapters, I was immediately immersed in a world that presented me without a lot of elements that I love about Sci-Fi.
Our two main POV’s in this book are Lisa and Tony, and they both experience different aspects of the world they live in through different lifestyles. Lisa is an ex-alcoholic with a great amount of determination and a lot of love for the people who she cares deeply about, and over the course of the book we see her get into a number of difficult situations she has to navigate. I found Lisa’s chapters very intriguing and interesting as they are somewhat a mixture of Sci-Fi meets mystery, and it is this aspect of her POV that makes the chapters so amazing to read.
We then have Tony who is a very proud person, who will do whatever he can to have a good reputation, and unfortunately at the very start of the book he is involved in a situation that hurts his reputation within his family and the company. At the start of the book Tony’s chapters were slightly less exciting than Lisa’s, but as the book progresses this quickly changes, as we see Tony start to investigate the goings on around what he retrieved after the incident at the start of the book. As this develops Tony’s POV becomes a lot more exciting to read.
On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the different characters in this world, and I also felt emotionally drawn to what they were experiencing. With regards to world-building, we find out a lot about the different worlds that Lisa and Tony live in, and finding out about these we very enjoyable. Hardcore SF novels can be well known for their complex environments and worlds, and I felt Into Everywhere handled this very well as it gives you just enough detail to allow you to imagine what kind of world the characters were living in, but also not so much where you are being bogged down in detail.
With all of the above in mind I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and I think for a hardcore SF book it is a very thrilling and enjoyable read without falling into the same pitfalls as other books in the same genre. Into Everywhere is an extremely interesting book that always leaves you wanting to more, and I very much enjoyed the mixture of Sci-Fi and mystery throughout the book. I would thoroughly recommend this book to any fan of Sci-fi.
Paul McAuley | @jamesmcstravick
- Quiet War Series
- Something Coming Through (#1 in Choice series)
- Confluence Series
- Four Hundred Billion Stars Series