Degrees of Freedom is the final volume of Simon Morden’s initial Petrovitch/Metrozone series. The first of these, Equations of Life, was an entertaining cyberpunk but the sequel, Theories of Flight, alright showed signs of repetitiveness and lack progression between the novels. Degrees of Freedom, sadly, confirms this trend. It is by no means a bad novel, but it’s resemblance to the first two in how its story is built and executed leaves too strong a sense of déja vu for it not to negatively impact my enjoyment of the novel. For this reason, this review will be kept a bit short since a few different plot points apart, Degrees of Freedom felt somewhat like a remake of the previous two and I feel no need of desire to reiterate some the points I made there.
The Six Degrees of Samuel Petrovitch:
Michael is an AI of incalculable complexity trapped under the remains of Oshicora Tower. Petrovitch will free him one day; he just has to trust Michael will still be sane by the time he does.
Maddy and Petrovitch have trust issues. But Petrovitch is pretty sure she loves him.
Sonja Oshicora loves Petrovitch too. But she’s playing a complicated game and it’s not clear that she means to save him from what’s coming.
The CIA wants to save the world. Well, just America, but they’ll call it what they like.
The New Machine Jihad is calling. But Petrovitch killed it. Didn’t he?
And the Armageddonists tried to kill pretty much everyone by blowing the world up. Now, they want to do it again.
Once again, all roads lead back to Petrovitch. Everyone wants something from him, but all he wants is to be free…
Apart from the jarring similarities with its predecessors, Degrees of Freedom does have a few tricks of its own. There is a definite sense that the story is winding down - at least for a bit - but it’s difficult for Morden to really concentrate on bringing the story of Petrovitch to an end while trying to maintain the credibility of events. Because really, a third major city-wide, even world-wide, crisis in so many years is starting to seriously push it. I wouldn’t at all have minded a more down-scaled story (though perhaps the second book in the series might have been better for this) that could rely more on Petrovitch’s characteristic intellect and propensity for sharp, well-placed sarcasm rather than on the ‘if I don’t do something crazy brilliant now, the world will relapse into another nuclear war’ premise. That was fine for book one, but by the time we hit book three, it’s getting old.
It was a pleasure though to see Morden address character issues in a more in-depth fashion than before, particularly the tortuous relationship between Petrovitch and Madeleine. But since that half-built in the first and second books, the resolution in the third lacks authenticity and has only marginal impact on the conclusion of the plot. There’s no denying it, Petrovitch runs a one-man show, and despite assurances from the character himself, he really doesn’t need anyone else, which really has been fine by me all along since he’s the most interesting of the bunch.
I made the recommendation at the end of my review of Theories of Flight to try and space out Simon Morden’s books for fear of falling prey to the repetitiveness of their nature and I think it’s necessary I issue that warning again. As you have probably understood from the rest of this review above, Degrees of Freedom was a let down for me after having enjoyed Equations of Life and its sequel, but I feel that I perhaps did not follow my own counsel. Degrees of Freedom is no worse a book than its predecessors, in fact it’s just too similar to them. If you were entertained by the first two Metrozone books I won’t turn you away from Degrees of Freedom, but I will say that you let it sit for a bit before picking it up. Degrees of Freedom was released in June by Orbit in both the US and the UK.
My Rating: 3 out of 5
Reading Age: 15 and up
Simon Morden's Website: http://www.simonmorden.com/
Buy Degrees of Freedom: