Zero World by Jason M Hough

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Zero World by Jason M Hough

Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Peter Cresswell is a killer, but one to designed to forget his deeds. When a mission goes wrong he starts to remember and what he is about to see will put him in mortal danger as well as the very world we live on. Join him in this high concept science fiction novel with plenty of action.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 492 Date: August 2015
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781783295258

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Memory is an important element of making us who we are. Do we avoid certain courses of action knowing that the memory of it would haunt us for the rest of our lives? Most of us would not kill, but what if you could forget that you just ended someone's life? Then you may be a sociopath, but a useful sociopath that can be trained to be an assassin who kills, forgets and kills again. This type of person may even forget that they have visited new worlds.

Peter Caswell is one such agent, he is an assassin who has had an operation that means he never knows who he has killed. He may have a rather spotty memory, but his bank balance makes up for this. However, when an operation goes bad he finds himself on a spacecraft entering a strange space based anomaly with no ability to forget. Will being to remember alter his actions and will the people who hire him want to keep a killer who knows what they are doing?

Zero World is a multi-layered science fiction book that has not one, not two, but three significant concepts that the reader must get their heads around. Author Jason M Hough does a good job of introducing us to complex ideas and guiding the reader through. First there is the concept of a man who is engineered to forget; a snapshot is taken at one point in his life, then a few days later all memory is wiped from this point. This means that Peter can be sitting on a bus one second, then suddenly lose all memory for the past five days – why is he on the bus? The sense of discombobulation that this gives Peter is explored in an interesting way and like the best science fiction makes you think.

If this concept was not enough to get your head around, then try the space exploration and concept of the Zero World itself. The book has memory wiping, but also near Earths. Every 100 pages or so, Hough adds another massive twist that requires the reader to stop for a moment and think what is happening. I for one enjoy a slight challenge in my science fiction and the great ideas on show here are worth the short struggle to bend your mind around them.

With such high concept ideas, it is a shame that elsewhere the book dumbs down a little too much. The parallel worlds are great, but rather then explore this further Hough has written a rather dumb action chase. The book's pace is unrelenting, then the books slows as Hough explains a new idea. The stop/start nature of the book becomes jarring. Added to this, it is a little too long, clocking in at almost 500 pages a lot of the chase could have been streamlined to reduce at least 50 pages. A bonus does come with the book as you get a full novella set in the same universe at the back of the book. After ploughing through so much initial novel, you may be Zero World-ed out and not want to know much more.

Zero World is a heady mix of strong ideas and iffy execution. The high concepts are great and individually would have made three or so interesting and separate adventures. As it is, you get one slightly muddled and overlong action book that will be of interested to science fiction fans, but many people will find it difficult to see beyond the obvious flaws.

For high concept action science fiction done well try Influx by Daniel Suarez or if you like it a little over ambitious try Goodhouse by Peyton Marshall.

Buy Zero World by Jason M Hough at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Zero World by Jason M Hough at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Zero World by Jason M Hough at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Zero World by Jason M Hough at Amazon.com.


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