Capacity by Tony Ballantyne
|Capacity by Tony Ballantyne|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: Dave Martin|
|Summary: Helen is tortured, raped and murdered on a daily basis and in a variety of ways. Can Judy13 intervene? Capacity is an intriguing sci-fi whodunit by a promising new writer.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 352||Date: November 2006|
There are hundreds of Helens in the universe, every one of them the same and every one of them tortured, raped and murdered on a daily basis. This is the problem with being a unique personality construct; you are subject to the morbid fascination of such sick human beings as Kevin. Kevin lives by a mantra of control and dominance, so his fascination with the various Helens is inevitable. Fortunately, Judy13 has stepped in to break the cycle and hopefully stop Kevin abusing the various Helens in the universe once and for all.
Capacity is a complex sci-fi novel to say the least. With obvious influences and elements borrowed from sci-fi classics such as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? this is a novel that shows considerable promise. Ballantyne weaves a convincing, if rather complex, tale of conspiracy of an advanced future in which clones outnumber and control humanity and robots are their superior.
Distinctly dark in tone, Capacity has an element of violence about it with sexual undertones littered throughout. This is not something however, that is necessarily to the novel's detriment. Rarely, is such an amount of sexual content necessary in a science-fiction novel and Capacity could have teetered over the edge into Star Trek nerd pleasing gratuitous sex scenes but although sex is a constant theme, it is used as a means of illustrating the power struggle between Helen and Kevin and men and women in general.
Rarely, have I read a sci-fi novel that manages to stay on the right side of intelligent, but Capacity manages it with style. Ballantyne writes with imagination and creativity and his plots although complex, are never dull. Capacity is the perfect example of a new writer on the up. This is a novel that blurs the lines between sci-fi and crime fiction as we go across the solar system for a murder mystery of the highest quality. Ballantyne's style reminds me strangely of how I imagine Douglas Adams would have sounded had he ever got dark and dirty. His settings certainly have the unique qualities of a Hitchhiker's Guide novel while retaining an essentially human quality that many other writers lack.
Perhaps, the most intriguing part of Capacity is not however, the imaginative settings, but rather the central character of Helen. She is everything infuriating about humanity as we sympathise greatly with one Helen's plight while also banging our heads against a wall as yet another Helen gets murdered. It is Ballantyne's ability to cause such confused emotions for the reader that makes this novel such a departure in an otherwise staid genre.
This is a novel that never becomes stagnant and is packed full of exciting set pieces.Unfortunately, the only thing it suffers from is a writer who almost borders on the too clever as at times I did struggle to keep up with the plot, occasionally having to re-read to ensure I coul keep track. However, Capacity is a novel worth sticking with by a writer who will be around for many years to come. It's a complex but enjoyable sci-fi whodunit that a fan of sci-fi or crime fiction could not help but enjoy.
Thanks to the publishers at Panmacmillan for this copy.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Capacity by Tony Ballantyne at Amazon.com.
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