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John Meaney

Bantam / Transworld

UK Hardcover

ISBN 0-593-04573-4

Publication Date: 05-02-2000

408 Pages; £17.99

Date Reviewed: 02-10-03

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel © 2003



Science Fiction, Horror, Fantasy


In 'To Hold Infinity', John Meaney created a compelling vision of a future where humans were beginning to augment the abilities of the brain with the abilities of computing technology. The immediacy of his prose contributed to the force of his vision. In 'Paradox', he creates a story in the same universe, where the events of 'To Hold Infinity' are a distant memory, a tag note to a weblink in the history of a planet far removed from the setting of the newer novel. In 'Paradox' Meaney conjures with the same power, the same strong language that he showed in his first outing. But 'Paradox' is a different novel with different concerns. The techno-genie Meaney unleashed is long out of the box, and the results are the history of the planet of Nulaperion. As with any technology, once a plateau is reached, once a level is established, the forces of seemingly inevitable human nature will begin to exert themselves in the environment created by the new technology. Society will stratify. Power and knowledge will be hoarded and managed by a group of humans who will set themselves above a much larger group, ostensibly for the benefit of that larger group. And from within that larger group, individuals will emerge who will challenge the power structure. Same as it ever was.

As 'Paradox' begins, Tom Corcorigan is a teenaged kid in the subterranean world of Nulaperion. The lower the class, the lower the depth at which they live. He's standing in a crowded marketplace when a mysterious woman gives him a seemingly insignificant info-crystal. Seconds later, she is shot down and killed by the militia squad. Only later does Tom realize that she was one of the fabled Pilots, and that he has been handed the key to understanding mu-space.

This sounds like standard 'Star Wars'-style "I am your father Luke" fiction, but Meaney's unique vision and prose skills never let it sink into anything remotely resembling cheesy space opera. Meaney's writing is gripping and immersive. His characters are closely written and intense, so that it all unravels right before the reader's amazed eyes. The world is detailed and fantastic, filled with biological and cybernetic innovations that are so well known to the characters that they seem positively organic. The construction of the narrative and the world is such that the novel might have a definite appeal to horror and fantasy readers as well as science fiction readers.

Laced in Tom's story in the story of one of the original Pilots, Karyn McNamara, which takes place in 2122. The dual-threaded story works very well in 'Paradox', filling readers in on the background while Tom's story in the foreground grows increasingly strange. Meaney is a master at doling out the information the reader needs to suss what's going on in either timeline. A few readers may find that the novel verges on the confusing, but most will find it richly suggestive and highly evocative.

With 'Paradox', Meaney is clearly working on a canvas larger than one novel, but such is the effectiveness of his ability to suggest that it seems complete even though parts of the story are left unresolved. 'Paradox' is a compelling take on the far future of class warfare, in a setting so full-bodied and inventive that readers will look forward to re-reading it upon the release of the sequel.