Equations of Life (Samuil Petrovitch)
by Simon Morden
Review by Ernest Lilley
Orbit Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316125185
Date: 01 April 2011 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Simon Morden's Petrovich/Machine Jihad/Metrozone trilogy is starting up with the very excellent Equations of Life, which is a terrific read. As donkey says, "That was fun. Let's do it again" (fortunately, there are two more books ready to be released, so we can). Nuns, guns, nuclear weapons, AIs, a Japanese empire rising from ruined London, the CIA doing the bidding of an American Theocracy, the Inquisition (bet you didn't see that coming) and a Russian ex-pat physicist with a good heart, just not the one in his chest, though it takes a while for him to accept it. And lots of educational russo-invective!
Hero-wise, Samuil Petrovitch, isn't what you'd expect. He looks like "just another immigrant, not worth rolling" as he moves through the London Metrozone. What he is is a survivor, adept at camouflaging himself into invisibility, which suits him fine. As he says to the courier who meets up with him at his favorite coffee shop/drop point, "I've got trust issues, so I don't do the people stuff very well." Actually, maybe he's not so different from other dystopian SF loners we know, except for being ex-Russian (St. Petersburg is radioactive now). He does, in fact, remind me a bit of Gibson's Case, (You are too much the artiste...the artiste of the slightly funny deal) in Neuromancer, only here Petrovitch lives in post-apocalyptic London, instead of a matching Chiba, the colorful barkeep is an eccentric Chinese cafe owner, and the sky is tuned to a leaden gray, not the color of a dead TV channel.
>Like Case, Petrovitch has been hiding out from life, and like Case, life comes for him. In this case though, it's not the sullen anti-hero who gets bribed with a path back to the world that threw him out, but the survivor that can't quite keep himself from stopping a kidnapping, putting himself between a young woman and the all too professional muscle that is determined to stuff her into a car and be away from the crowded London street. Neither wise, nor healthy, and certainly not what a survivor does.
But knowing the smart thing to do is one thing, and ignoring what you really are is another.This is a series not to be missed, and as I've had a chance to read the other two books, I can promise you that it's only going to get better.