Book Review: ‘Against Gravity’ by Gary Gibson

‘Against Gravity’ is Gary Gibson‘s second novel. It follows Kendrick Gallmon, erstwhile investigative journalist from the former USA, now a refugee in late 21st Century Edinburgh. His body is riddled with nanotech augmentations which have gone haywire, mutating and growing within him to an unknown end. Along with hundreds of others he was experimented upon by ‘Los Muertos’, the paranoid remnants of the US military, who were attempting to build the ultimate soldier in the aftermath of the collapse of the United States. Like many of his fellow ‘Lab-Rats’, he sees visions from time to time, but when his life is saved by a ghost from his past in The Maze, the underground lab-fortress where the augmentation research was performed, he is set upon a journey that will lead him to hunting down and confronting all the pieces of the puzzle. These include more rogue nanotech, ex-comrades both friendly and hostile, companies run by fundamentalist scientists, an unreachable orbital habitat and the out-of-control AIs that infest it.

This is broad-spectrum SF. Gibson hasn’t tried to stick to a set corner of the playground, and has produced a novel with broad appeal and satisfying writing, taking a fairly standard handful of ideas and knocking them together into a well paced, readable story. The perspective stays with Gallmon as the lead character, and the flashbacks and remembrances are well timed and careful, filling us in on Gallmon’s past, yet rarely straying into info-dump. Underlying the muscular yet unobtrusive writing style is the broad theme of faith, and how hard it is to see the same transcendent light as someone else; Gallmon and many of the other characters frequently have to confront the line between certainty and faith, trusting their lives to destiny. The characterisation is distinct, if a trifle thin, with some of Gallmon’s old cronies coming across as somewhat two-dimensional, but no worse than the ‘real people’ that infest the pages of the bestseller lists. But the pace is smooth and measured, avoiding the weapons-based combat-scene excesses of military SF while retaining its vigour and energy. A strong second novel from an aspiring member of the growing Scotland set.

(Disclaimer: this review originally written for Interzone, but unpublished.)

{NB: Online review withdrawn 20/11/05, pending possible publication.}

{NB again: Review published in Interzone #202; now republished here for reference.}

One thought on “Book Review: ‘Against Gravity’ by Gary Gibson”

  1. As an Interzone editor I’m concerned by this, and don’t know anything about these reviews being intended for Interzone. I can’t find a name or eddress for you on your blog, but please email me so we can find out what happened here. Thanks. andy(at)ttapress(dot)demon(dot)co(dot)uk

Leave a Reply