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From Divergent Suns (SF) - Sam Peters ****

I really enjoyed the second in this series from Sam Peters, From Distant Stars, and was not disappointed by this book, which brings the trilogy to a close. As before, there's a satisfyingly well-portrayed colony world, set up by a mysterious race who turned up at Earth, transplanted humans (and killed many more), then disappeared, leaving their unmanned ships traversing the colony routes as lifelines.

On the storm-tossed world Magenta, central character Keon Rause, effectively a police officer, is trying to uncover a conspiracy that could wreck the colony while dealing with both his wife's apparent death (which by now he knows is faked) and an AI mockup of his wife that he created as a failed attempt to replace her. As before, one of the most interesting aspects is the built-in Servant, an all-purpose communication and information device which means there are quite often threaded conversations happening both verbally and mentally at the same time. Similarly the Tesseract, the AI that run's Keon's bureau is an interesting concept, which is explored far more in this volume than previous ones.

Although it's hard not to find Keon's obsession with finding his wife, which frequently gets in the way of logical action, irritating, there is once again a good mix of action and thoughtfulness, particularly in Keon's relationship with Liss, the AI substitute for his wife and the implications that arise about the nature and rights of artificial life.

My only real criticism of the book is that it feels rather less able to be read standalone than the previous volumes - I wouldn't read this one without at least reading From Distant Stars. This was particularly true for one (long gone) character (Gersh) who I can't for the life of me remember, but is clearly very significant.

From Divergent Suns pulls together the trilogy in a very satisfying manner. You do need to read the predecessor(s), but given that, it's an excellent book.

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Review by Brian Clegg


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