Equations of Life is a novel that surprised me. Coming from planetary geophysics PhD Simon Morden, this short, intense and fun-filled novel won me over. It is by no means a deep and reflective piece, but should rather be praised for what it intends to be: a wild and raucous science fiction thriller written, for the most part, for entertainment purposes. This doesn’t mean that Morden shies away from writing brilliant, witty, and most importantly, memorable characters which drive this nifty story. In short, Equations of Life is well-executed and easily accessible by which you should let yourself be taken in for no other reason that for a short bout of sci-fi fun.
Samuil Petrovitch is a survivor. He survived the nuclear fallout in St. Petersburg and hid in the London Metrozone - the last city in England. He's lived this long because he's a man of rules and logic. For example: GETTING INVOLVED = A BAD IDEA. But when he stumbles into a kidnapping in progress, he acts without even thinking. Before he can stop himself, he's saved the daughter of the most dangerous man in London. And clearly: SAVING THE GIRL = GETTING INVOLVED. Now, the equation of Petrovitch's life is looking increasingly complex: RUSSIAN MOBSTERS + YAKUZA + SOMETHING CALLED THE NEW MACHINE JIHAD = ONE DEAD PETROVITCH. But Petrovitch has a plan - he always has a plan - he's just not sure it's a good one.
Morden wastes no time in getting stuck in the action. We haven’t met Petrovitch for more than five minutes before he is directly involved in averting a kidnapping and a wild, gun-firing chase through the streets of London or the ‘Metrozone’ as it has grown to be know thirty-some years down the line. From then on the action and suspense is essentially relentless until the very last pages of the book. If nothing else, you can’t say that Equations of Life isn’t a riveting, gripping read.
Mention has to be made of the strong character Morden has created in Samuil Petrovitch. The Russian refugee/PhD candidate/ex-mobster is a joy to read. His wit and exuberant sarcasm, not to mention his frequent injection of Russian swear words and insults, added on to his tendency to get himself over his head in trouble makes him an extremely intriguing and dynamic character to follow. How much you grow to like his snarky nature is surprising, and for that Morden scores high points.
Do not think that Equations of Life is just mindless action and humor - Morden manages to sneak in the odd moment of thrilling horror and unexpected instances of raw and touching character emotions. In this Petrovitch is not the only character that comes alive in Equations of Life, he is accompanied by a vivid, if slightly more rigid, cast of secondary characters. Their loyalty and devotion to each other and to their ‘goal’ especially in their disregard for personal safety is arresting and makes for all the more tension-filled reading.
This shockingly fun start to the Metrozone Trilogy is brilliant and well-worth the go. If Petrovitch’s blatant cynicism does hook you then the action-thriller plot, neat and detailed sci-fi backdrop and spirited side characters will. What could be better than a skinny college student, a defense expert nun, a police inspector and members of various criminal organizations working together to save the day? Highly recommended for those in search of high quality, perfectly-sized, science fiction entertainment. Look out for Theories of Flight and Degrees of Freedom to be consecutively published in May and June.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Reading Age: 15 and up
Simon Morden's Website: http://www.simonmorden.com
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