Posted 20 hours ago

The Mountain in the Sea: Winner of the Locus Best First Novel Award

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My only minor gripe is the parts with action were not as engaging as I would have liked, but that could have just been me.

Estamos en el Archipiélago Con Dao, en las costas de Vietnam y concretamente en la isla de Con Son: playas, arrecifes de coral y manglares. And I think the overall largest theme of the book is one of human indifference: not only indifference to other species or animals, but to each other as humans, and to our relationship with our environment. Its techno-thriller parts have pacing and suspense issues that would normally decrease my enjoyment. There's certainly easy applications here to our current climate change situation, but I think it aims beyond that; to the larger core reason of humankind's general lack of empathy.It certainly isn’t a pacey thriller and there were times I was frustrated by the slow development of the plot, but it came through in the end. It seems that these octopi can converse using a form of language through symbols, and so Nguyen’s aim is not so much to study them but to learn to communicate with them. What it's really about, I think, is the isolation of individual consciousness and what it takes to break out of it. Some mysterious characters wear “identity shields”, obscuring their real faces with changing electronic ones, to avoid ubiquitous surveillance. Some characters can control insect-sized assassination drones, rather like the knife missiles in the novels of Iain M Banks.

How starkly the author speaks to us, through a mirror darkly - fictional words attributed to a fictional character, folded inside a fictional story.

It may lack edge-of-your-sit thrills, but it more than makes up for it in the themes and thought-provoking ideas.

As often happens, I felt the characters were slaves to the concepts or tech, though extra credit is due to writing the chief protagonist as a Vietnamese woman who speaks English and Turkish. As well, all the robotics and AI stuff was trying too hard, clearly way too advanced for a storyline that was supposed to be fairly near future. Ray Nayler has taken on the challenge of a near future that's less certain than ever, and made it gleam - not only with computer terminals and sentry drones (we love those, sure) but also polished coral and cephalopod eyes. Because I would visit her every time I went to the zoo - and this was often, because we lived within walking distance and purchased passe - she came to know my face (it's true what the book says that they remember faces). I want to stress that science fiction fans--who have reviewed The Mountain in the Sea very well--might love this.On the surface, it's a hard-science thriller set in a reshaped geopolitical environment, where humankind's aggressive harvesting of the oceans for protein may have put evolutionary pressure on octopuses to develop a civilization of comparable intelligence as ours. Additionally, each chapter opens with an excerpt from one of two books written by two of the characters: Dr.

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