Archivist Luc Gabion has finally achieved his life's goal - of bringing down Winchell Antonov, head of the Black Lotus terrorist organisation, and the scourge of the Tian Di's stellar empire for countless years. But instead of feeling victorious, the encounter has left him scarred. Forcibly implanted with a technology far in advance of anything he's encountered before, Luc sees and hears things he knows he's not supposed to. Worse, the technology is killing him, slowly. So when he finds himself investigating the murder of one of the Tian Di's ruling clique, the Thousand Emperors, he knows he's in trouble.
©2012 Gary Gibson (P)2012 Audible Ltd
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Great science fiction. Gripping action, the reader is plunged into the mystery from the very first pages and is immediately taken in by the story. The story is apocalyptic and is given from the perspective of a number of key characters. It revolves around ancient artefacts created by an unknown race and the technology of wormholes used by humanity in the present time of the book.
All in all, an average read.
Note: Ignore the description provided with this audiobook, that one is actually for the 2nd installment in this series (not yet released) entitled, Thousand Emperors.
Final Days takes place in the early 23rd century. Wormhole technology has allowed colonization of distant planets. In the current galacto-political structure, Earth continues to dominate by maintaining a hub and spoke structure for the wormhole configuration. In other words, all travel is between Earth (more properly, the moon) and the colonies. Inter-colony travel is not permitted. This imposition has led to separatists movements attempting to rectify the situation and a heavy handed, almost totalitarian response by the Earth oligarchy. Added to this volatile mix is the recent discovery of alien artifacts suggesting advanced technology that results in the realization that Earth is doomed and drastic measures will be needed to secure the ruling hierarchy's survival while maintaining secrecy.
The sci-fi elements are well done and integrated without overwhelming the story. In addition to wormhole technology and aliens, an interesting twist on time travel is presented. Pacing is uneven and begins very slowly as multiple plot lines are created to introduce the characters. Much of this early action is peripheral to the overall plot. In addition, the initial focus on individual characters is unrelated to their involvement for the rest of the story (this may be tolerable if those characters are involved in later installments, however). Unfortunately, the multiple plot twists near the end, make for empathy whiplashs in terms of who and what to be rooting for as the tale climaxes. The finale is a bit of a head scratcher. Hopefully the next installment will reset the story arc.
The narration is well done and the range of voices is more than adequate.
"Foreknowledge of the apocalypse"
Gary Gibson's "Final Days" was equal parts action/thriller and far-thought SF that forces the reader to consider the purpose and motives of aliens so far removed from our own time that the stars and their galaxies have all burned out to embers, and the dilemma of Free Will in an observed time-loop.
The braided story lines of the main protagonists merge closer and closer together as the novel reaches its climax, and at no point does the momentum or adrenalin ebb for long. Cliché as it sounds, this truly is a 'non-stop' storyline where the characters are all pursued with deadly consequence and the very highest of stakes. There are several moments where one character unravels a portion of the story's mystery already known to one of the other characters, and the reader is rewarded with a goose-bump irony that is the privilege of omniscient narration. However, this kind of scene plays out one or two times too often for my tastes, and instead becomes tedious recapping. Overall, though, the pacing is quite balanced and holds the attention throughout.
At a more thought-provoking level, a scientific speculation about limited forms of time-travel enabled by accelerating one end of a wormhole to relativistic speeds, leads to a very intriguing situation: Can one change the future glimpsed by such means? The author credits scientists Kip Thorne and Ray Kurzweil with the original concepts he exploits for his plot. He ramps the wonder up by introducing a future alien civilization which has extended this technology to its very furthest extents, and then confronted the resulting dilemma of achieving free will when your future has already been observed, and therefore, determined. These same questions play out in smaller scale by the main characters who are trying to either escape or prevent the imminent destruction of the Earth.
"Final Days" will appeal to fans of Peter F. Hamilton and Neal Asher, synthesizing the strengths of each.
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