Absorption (Ragnarok book 1) by John Meaney (Gollancz)

Title: Absorption
Series: Ragnarok book 1
Author: John Meaney
Genre: Science Fantasy | Space Opera
Hardback: 416 pages
Publisher: Gollancz May 2010

Order from: Amazon US | UK | sfbok

600 years from now on the world of Fulgor Roger Blackstone, son of two Pilots (long-time alien spies, masquerading as ordinary humans) aches to see the mythical Pilot’s city of Labyrinth, in the fractal ur-continuum of mu-space. In 8th century Norseland, a young carl called Wulf kills a man, watched by a mysterious warrior who bears the mark of Loki the Trickster God. In 1920s Zurich, Gavriela Silberstein enters the long, baroque central hallway of the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule where Einstein so recently studied. And on a nameless world, not knowing his human heritage, a silver-skinned youth tries to snatch back an Idea – but it floats away on gentle magnetic currents. There are others across the ages, all with three things in common: they glimpse shards of darkness moving at the edge of their vision; they hear echoes of a dark, disturbing musical chord; and they will dream of joining a group called the Ragnarok Council. ABSORPTION is the first novel of RAGNAROK, a new space opera trilogy of high-tech space warfare, unitary intelligences made up of millions of minds, the bizarre physics of dark energy, quantum mechanics and a mindblowing rationale for Norse mythology.

This is one of the best books I have read this year but I almost put it away. The story is complex and follows multiple main characters along multiple time lines but all the characters are compelling and the world John has created is pretty awesome. It took about 70 pages before I could sort out the plot enough for some kind of grip. Some of the plot lines get some kind of resolution or a rest stop while others are wide open before this book is over which is good since it is the first book in a series you really want to read the next book.

It is hard to describe what this is. It is a new take on Norse mythology with both science fiction and fantasy content. Fantasy readers will probably feel at home in the viking era while hard core science fiction fans will do the same in the 22 or 26th hundreds. This book has things for almost every genre buff. One timeline is early 19 hundreds and involve celebrities such as Freud and Einstein. And they all come together in a distant but parallel future where some kind of fight or score keeping takes place. It is definitely a matter of Light against Shadows but it is a bit more complicated than that and I have a feeling some of the dark creatures might be fighting for light and vice versa, we will see further on in the series.

I had most wow moments in the futuristic world of normal humans and uplifted ones. There you got to see what Internet wants to become when it grows up and that future city was awesome with lots of spiffy tech. There is a tie in to John’s previous books with the plot around vampiric code. If i guess right (I haven’t read it, but I will) To Hold Infinity takes place somewhere between the two future timelines. It is probably not a bad idea to read his previous science fiction books concerning the Pilots before this one, though it works fine as a stand alone series.

All the characters make me want to come back and know how it goes for them. The aliens are lovely or mysterious and we have only started to scratch on the main plot, it is still much of a bloody mystery to me but it is so compelling to follow. The sequel will be high on my most anticipated books next year.