Adam Roberts’ work often has a big concept upfront: Snow (what the snow just keeps falling); By Light Alone (what if people could photosynthesise through their hair); Gradisil (what would orbital habitats be like if they organised as a country). So…this opens on a generation starship. Fantastic, Roberts’ take on this trope. Then they arrive at their destination pretty damn quickly, and there’s a Big Dumb Object waiting. Great, Roberts’ take on the inscrutable alien BDO. Hold that coffee. We’re winding back from the far future to around ten years from now.
The story-within-a-story takes place in a US where the worst 2020 predictions of the death of democracy, informal warfare, and gun-nuttery have progressed ten-fold. Which is in many ways a shame as the elements of Roberts’ post-Trump apocalypse feel less original than the first far future section of this novel. Weaponised neonicotinoids, iphones plugging directly into people, artificial intelligence, shadowy and paranoid government agencies, malware, VPNs…it’s a convincing mix of horrors, but not quite on the level of On (idea: what if gravity operated at 90 degrees).
This is not to say that the central section of Purgatory Mount is not a satisfying read. It » Continue Reading.