The Noise Within by Ian Whates (Book 1)

A mystic pirate ship that calls itself The Noise Within is the central mystery in this fast paced space opera. It is always interesting to read a new author. Here is my view.

Titel: The Noise Within
Series: Book 1 in an unnamed series
Author: Ian Whates
Cover art: Dominic Harman
Genre: Space Opera
Paperback: 334 pages
Publisher:
Solaris 2010
Order by: Amazon US | UK | B&N | sfbok

On the brink of perfecting the long sought-after human/AI interface, Philip Kaufman finds his world thrown into turmoil as a scandal from the past returns to haunt him and dangerous information falls into his hands. Pursued by assassins and attacked in his own home, he flees. Leyton, a government black-ops specialist, is diverted from his usual duties to hunt down the elusive pirate vessel The Noise Within, wondering all the while why this particular freebooter is considered so important. Two lives collide in this stunning space-opera.

Information

The book is dedicated to Bill Whates, Ian’s father.

One thing irritating with this otherwise excellent book is that there is no indication the book is the first book in a series. Not on the cover, not in any of the online stores (edit: amazon.co.uk has added he is writing the sequel to about the author since I wrote this) and not on the publishers site. The only hint is if you visit the author’s homepage and read the last sentences at the bottom of his about page where it says he is working on the sequels, honestly. Anyway it is all made clear to you in the last chapter of the book that there is a sequel.

This was a fast read and I didn’t want to put the book down. In general I am not so fond of multiple protagonists but it works well here. There is Leyton a special secret agent with his own intelligent gun as sidekick, Philip Kaufman is CEO of the company that built the ship  and ai-interface researcher, Kyle is a bored starship engineer who is the first to defect to The Noise Within and Kethi is a member of a mystic group that has prepared for an undefined threat they now believe is upon us.

The Author

This is the first book by Ian Whates I have ever read. He is a British author and editor of speculative fiction with many short stories and anthologies under his belt. The Noise Within is his second published novel according to isfdb and his first according to some. Ian lives in an idyllic Cambridgeshire village with his partner Helen and their pets.

World building

The world building is okay, there is some spiffy technology like the intelligent gun and the ai-interface. It worked with the story anyway; I got what I needed but not much more. The various setting was well realized and developed. I especially liked the tourist world with its slum.

One thing was never quite clear to me about the world, it was the noise within the mind that somehow defined or enhanced intelligence?

Plot

The Pirate Ship The Noise Within has become a menace to commerce and something has to be done. Philip discover the true identity of the ship and then has to go on an extended vacation due to his attempts at hacking, after getting bored with playing tourist he heads for the sector he believe the Noise Within to work in.

Leyton starts out infiltrating a drug lords well protected estate in an explosion of high tech and violence before being pulled away to raid a rebel base for information on the Noise Within before he heads for one of the tourist worlds closest to the ships operational area to set a trap for its crew.

Kyle is bored with his shipboard life aboard a fully automated luxury liner where he is a redundant backup system so when the Noise Within attacks he defects.

Kethi is a member of a mystic group that made themselves scarce after the war, their leader was convinced humanity should not fight that war, instead we should prepare for the threat to come. What this threat is unclear in the novel. This is a bit unfair of the author since Kethi must know. It could be aliens or it could be artificial intelligences.

Characterization

The characters are well defined and easy to relate to. I am not totally convinced with Kyle’s reasons to defect but it is not a game breaker. Leyton’s love interest Mya, a fellow operative is the reason for the cliffhanger at the end of the book.

My view

The Noise Within is a well cooked space opera with black ops, intelligent ships, ai-interfaces, alien mysteries and intelligent guns. It could have a bit more general world building and the assassination attempts on Philip’s is never fully explained and the mystery with The Noise Within and Mya left us hanging in the end but I guess that leaves something for book two. It works as a standalone novel up until the last pages.