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Book Review

Book Cover

Mirrored Heavens


Author: David J. Williams
Bantam Spectra
RRP: £8.99, US $12.00, Cdn $14.00
ISBN: 978 0 553 38541 0
Available 01 May 2008

In the twenty-second century the world of the haves has divided itself into two power blocks. From a position of an uneasy détente the two sides have come together to build the Phoenix Space Elevator, a massive orbital structure that will boost ships and goods into a higher orbit. This fragile peace looks set to disintegrate when the Autumn Rain destroy the structure. With time running out, and paranoia increasing, Claire Haskell and Jason Marlowe are given a single mission, find the Autumn Rain and destroy them before the world is plunged into another war...

The Mirrored Heavens is a debut dystopian science fiction novel by David J. Williams. The background to the novel sees the militarisation and partition of local space and the moon. China has grown and joined a reinvigorated Russia to create the Eurasian Coalition with its allied states in the Middle East and Africa, with the United States controlling all of North and most of South America. The rest of the world is, in theory, neutral.

Technology has likewise evolved. People - Razors in the book - can now directly interface with the Internet, weapons rang from hypersonic nuclear weapons and mobile battle suits and all this is under the control of faceless governments, doubly so for the agents which work for them as much of their memories are wiped when they are programmed for their missions.

The book opens with the rather dry text of the Treaty of Zurich which sets out the geopolitical detente which exists at the beginning of the story. Oh dear, I’m thinking another dense future history, and then bang Williams throws you straight into the action.

What comes next is nothing short of a brilliant piece of writing. Introduced to three characters, The Operative, Claire and Jason the book then takes you on a frenetic roller coaster ride, quickly cutting between what is happening to these individuals. The pace leaves you exhilarated and breathless. Information is scant and no context for the characters is given and this is as it should be. The combination of speed and lack of information leaves the audience in as much turmoil as the characters when their world is changed forever by the destruction of the Elevator. This could so easily have gone wrong and degenerated into a list, but Williams pulls off his trick with great aplomb.

When Williams finally lets you breathe in, around page one hundred, this is only to get you ready for the chase. Claire and Jason set off to find Autumn Rain without realising that in fact they are the ones being tracked. The rest of the book has paranoia worthy of a Philip K. Dick novel delivered at a break neck pace. The ending is surprising, very satisfying and well worth the wait.

I could go on praising this book. Characterisation and character development is spot on and the world he creates is not so far removed from our own not to feel worryingly familiar. Williams has a lot more background material related to the book at which is well worth a look.

For a debut novel this was seriously impressive stuff, let’s hope he can keep this level of quality up for another, hopefully set in the same universe; I for one would like to know more.


Charles Packer

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