Reading: Hannu Rajaniemi — The Fractal Prince

A difficult thing to come directly after Iain M. Banks and The Hydrogen Sonata, but still, Hannu Rajaniemi’s continuation of The Quantum Thief, which I’ve read twice already, has been long-awaited by me. And it arrives in hardback!

The cover is not as nice as Banks’, actually the weird rendering of faces and odd lighting angles makes it look like something spat out of a 1990s 3D modeling app. I feel conflicted by it. On the one hand, even though the illustration takes up a good half the cover area, there’s a lot of white to offset it, so it’s not embarrassingly awful — and the title font is not so bad (slightly blobby Helvetica); oh but drop shadow on the author’s name, and colour gradient on the title! Sometimes it really looks like these things are bashed out in 15 minutes by an the office intern and proofed from across the room.

It’s not hideously grotesque like some of the fantasy covers I’ve endured, which seem to be trolling the limits of a cliché orgy, though from a science-fiction perspective, it’s much the same.

Anyway, it’s a book and judge not by the cover, etc. Well, actually do judge by the cover because that’s what makes people pick up unknown authors (me vacillating between the nice, shiny, embossed cover of Charles Stross’ Accellerando and the cyberpunk/Neuromancer-esque first pages until the cover won me over is a good example). I really don’t understand cover choices sometimes (which have nothing to do with the author), unless I regard it as an expression of passive-aggressive disdain for the genre and so somewhat malicious, or “science-fiction! Put in some rockets — I mean spacecraft!” on the part of the marketing department, and so willfully ignorant.

Anyway anyway. Hannu Rajaniemi. I thought The Fractal Prince was pretty good, and it’s always nice to discover ‘pretty good’ on an author’s first novel, so I’ve been waiting a couple of years for the followup. Same universe, in fact something of a sequel (in which the catchup summary of the first novel’s plot is dispensed with on page 4 in one paragraph. 70 pages in and it’s rather good. I’m not sure I have any idea what’s going on, but it’s distracting me from work.