Reviews of Light (2002)
Review by clong (2007-06-24)
This is a strange book, a sort of space opera, as seen through a cyberpunk lens, with elements of urban fantasy thrown in for good measure. Harrison takes us through a series of dark, compelling, and fantastic settings. This is a future where "people" struggle to survive in a purposeless, ugly, and dreary high-tech universe.
The storyline jumps back and forth between three parallel stories, one set in the present, and two set in the distant future. It takes quite a while to make sense of how the three stories fit together.
The three main characters are challenging. One, Michael Kearney, is a haunted, physicist, serial killer (this isn't much of a spoiler--he kills someone on the third page of the book). The second, Seria Mau Genlicher, is a psychopathic, cyborg space pirate, haunted by a dark past. The third, Ed Chianese is a space thrillseeker turned virtual reality addict. We eventually learn about how Chianese's dark past intersects with Seria Mau's.
Light is a highly atmospheric book. The characters are haunted by dreams, dreams in which they relive the past and run from their future. There is lots of sex, none of it "normal." This is a book where nobody is what they seem, and everybody's motivations are dark.
I can easily see why this is not going to be a book for everyone, but I would definitely recommend it to fans of Samuel R. Delany and China Mieville. If Mieville had written Delany's Nova it might well have turned out something like M. John Harrison's Light.