The first of the ‘Metrozone’ books, Equations of Life, surprised me in its overbearingly-fun nature and I expected much of the same from the second installment, Theories of Flight. Thankfully, Morden delivers once again a thrilling novel, filled with smart plots and science fiction galore. Samuil Petrovitch returns in fine form to save the day and you should be glad for it. His sharp wit and un-paralleled resourcefulness return also and it is a joy once more to see him put them to use unravelling conspiracies and battling his way through every and all situations to achieve his desired goal. Clearly, this series is shaping up to be a light-hearted staple of the science fiction genre.
THEOREM: Petrovitch has a lot of secrets.
PROOF: Secrets like how to make anti-gravity for one. For another, he's keeping a sentient computer program on a secret server farm - the same program that nearly destroyed the Metrozone a few months back.
THEOREM: The city is broken.
PROOF: The people of the OutZone want what the citizens of the Metrozone have. And then to burn it to the ground. Now, with the heart of the city destroyed by the New Machine Jihad, the Outies finally see their chance.
THEOREM: These events are not unconnected.
PROOF: Someone is trying to kill Petrovitch and they're willing to sink the whole city to do it.
Though the events of Theories of Flight directly correlate to those of Equations of Life, it is necessary to mention that these books, for the most part, stand fine individually. But the reset button has not been pushed on the events that went down in the first ‘Metrozone’ book, and when the story begins we find Petrovitch dealing with the repercussions of those events. Going into them here would be spoiler-ish for Equations of Life, and since we don’t want that I won’t.
Let us just say that though returned to his usual nonchalant self, Petrovitch is not quite the man he was when we first met him. His relationship with another character (who won’t be named, for those spoilery reasons), for one, has changed him. As Theories of Flight spools up however, we aren’t interested in that so much as the Outies. A vague threat in Equations of Life, it seems that in the aftermath of the Long Night (the name given to the events of the first book) they have been able to penetrate the boundaries of the Metrozone. En masse. And apparently, they’re pissed.
Through unfortunate circumstances, the Outies find themselves between Petrovitch and his goal. And that’s bad for everyone. Petrovitch, driven by his genius-level confidence and stubbornness has to get through, and they can’t do anything but obstruct his path. For us readers, this mean one hell of a survival story as Petrovitch, the Yakuza bodyguard Miyamoto in tow, makes use of his not inconsiderable intelligence and resources to make his way through the war-torn Metrozone.
Don’t expect Theories of Flight to diverge into the wildly original or to be very different at all from Equations of Life. For my part, that’s fine. Equations of Life was fun, pulpy entertainment, and Theories of Flight is much the same. And though there is evidence of lasting developments carried over from the first book, Theories of Flight is essentially its own standalone story - something that is both satisfying in some regards, and angering in others. Let me explain. Though it is nice to be able to read a story that is self contained about characters we know and exist in other episodic novels, it’s also nice to have more story arcs carrying on over from one novel to the next. In the case of the ‘Metrozone’ books I’m able to overlook this fault due to their overall quality, and thankfully Theories of Flight appears to set a few things up more for Degrees of Freedom.
Also like Equations of Life, this second installment is full of twists, turns and filled to the brim with action and Petrovitch solving all sorts of challenges that spring up along the way. The pace is unrelenting - it keeps you hooked - and as the plot progresses, the tension and intensity build to reach the massive, and superb, climax. One thing’s for sure, Theories of Flight will not bore you - thrill, excite and entertain, certainly, but not bore.
Theories of Flight is, without a doubt a novel I have no problem recommending. It somewhat sticks to the shallow side of the pool when it comes to emotions and characterization, but Morden’s prowess at creating enticingly intelligent and complex plots more than makes up for it. No, the only minor caveat I might attach to my recommendation is that of the resemblance in plot between the ‘Metrozone’ novels. Reading about Petrovitch saving the day in the most wild and improbable manners is fine once, even twice, but after a while it can get repetitive and lead to increased disbelief. That’s why I would recommend you space the reading of the ‘Metrozone’ novels out, despite the fact that Orbit is releasing them at monthly intervals. Your appreciation of them will increase.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Reading age: 15 and up
Simon Morden's Website: http://www.simonmorden.com/
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