Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Incrementalists Book Review


By Steven Brust, Skyler White


Sept 24,2013

3/5 Stars


          A Summary if you find you need one,”

"Secret societies, immortality, murder mysteries and Las Vegas all in one book? Shut up and take my money." —John Scalzi

The Incrementalists—a secret society of two hundred people with an unbroken lineage reaching back forty thousand years. They cheat death, share lives and memories, and communicate with one another across nations, races, and time. They have an epic history, an almost magical memory, and a very modest mission: to make the world better, just a little bit at a time. Their ongoing argument about how to do this is older than most of their individual memories.
Phil, whose personality has stayed stable through more incarnations than anyone else’s, has loved Celeste—and argued with her—for most of the last four hundred years. But now Celeste, recently dead, embittered, and very unstable, has changed the rules—not incrementally, and not for the better. Now the heart of the group must gather in Las Vegas to save the Incrementalists, and maybe the world.
"Watch Steven Brust. He's good. He moves fast. He surprises you. Watching him untangle the diverse threads of intrigue, honor, character and mayhem from amid the gears of a world as intricately constructed as a Swiss watch is a rare pleasure." —Roger Zelazny” Amazon.com


         I have to admit that this book is unlike anything I’ve read recently.  But that, is not entirely a good thing.  The concept in this book, sorry for the spoilers.  Is that a select group of people are able to live forever by transplanting their consciousness from one body to the next and in essence, live forever.  The other has to do with “meddling” which is kind of like mentalism.  Where a person can be persuaded to do something if you know what kinds of things will most affect them to do these things.  It’s kind of like very targeted, very aggressive advertising.  If you feel that this may be a little badly explained and vague.  Sorry I tried, the book DOES explain these concepts better.  But having both of them in the same book along with the idea that some secret society of 200 people has been pushing the world along for better or worse for 40,000 years(?) is a bit hard to swallow no matter how much suspension of disbelief I might manage.

         This is all explained with half explanations and a kind of short hand that may or may not be easily absorbed by the average reader.  Is this book fantasy or science fiction?  Well, if this kind of thing matters to you; I’d say it is trying to be fantasy even if it is more science fiction than fantasy.  But considering most of the concepts in the book are NEVER explained in any real terms other than, this is what happens when we do this.  I guess the jury is still out.  This is mostly my problem with the book.  Not my inability to put it into a genre, no, my problem was the book’s inability to explain to the reader in any kind of reasonable why things were happening and how they were being made to happen.  Even if at some point someone said, “Because magic!”  I would have been happier.  Most of this is just ignored and the reader is left to wonder if it will ever be explained.  It isn’t…

           The characters are descent, and the dialog engaging.  But without a descent believable set of rules to run this new fanciful world by, the reader is just going along wondering what will happen next.  It’s a relatively interesting if far too long story.  The resolution is good and intact, but I have to admit the fourth wall breaking at the end was pretty unnecessary and for a writer like Steven Burst seems a bit amateurish.  Overall, I was relatively happy with the story and interested mostly remotely by the characters.  But really, for all the running around and talking theoreticals, past lives, and such the characters do; they could have ACTUALLY explained things a little more.  They certainly had the time.

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