Equations of Life

Simon Morden
Equations of Life Cover

Equations of Life


Samuil Petrovitch knows how to survive in the post-Armegeddon world. He's a 22 year-old Russian post-graduate student in in the London Metrozone, living in one of the high rise complexes of shipping containers that have taken over all of London's parks. He has already survived a shady past in St. Petersburg, and he has a heart that badly needs replacing. He knows what pathways through the city are least likely to get him mugged, and although he must be something of a shrimp physically he has on hand a steady stream of Russian obscenities that keep him cockily assured when talking to high-ranking Yakuza, Russian thugs, the London Metrozone police, or a six-foot-tall nun who serves as bodyguard for a local parish priest. But the day he saves a teenage Japanese girl from kidnappers gets him caught up with developments that may mark the last days of life on earth, even though he and the Nigerian mathematician he works with are also on the verge of solving The Theory of Everything.

And this is only volume one of a trilogy that in combination won the 2011 Philip K. Dick Award.

Morden paces his book like a thriller, with very few sf trappings until the final act. By then he is throwing in everything from sentient AI's to marauding technobots the size of construction cranes. The repartee begins to wear a little thin after about 300 pages, but the characters remain believable and Morden leaves no one behind when it comes to resolving his complex plot. Some reviewers have found Petrovitch's ingenuity and endurance unbelievable, but hey, he's the hero. Morden knows how to hardwire his hero's personality into the Y chromosomes of readers who are going love this geeky whiz kid able to attract the devotion and affections of both a 19 year old, Amazonian, gun-toting nun and the 17 year old daughter of a powerful Yakuza boss, a hero who smart talks to a loutish American ready to kill him because he knows he has a loaded beretta ready for use if he can just fish it out of the torn lining of his leather jacket.

In a multi-ethnic cast of characters, Americans and America take a particular beating. It seems post-Armageddon U.S. has gone Reconstructionist, a blend of religion and right-wing policies. Hard to imagine, isn't it. Details are sparse, but we do learn that Reconstructionist principles lead the U.S. to offer no help as Japan literally sank into the ocean. I hope the next two books in the series fill in more details on just what Armageddon consisted of and what worldwide social structures and politics have emerged in the twenty years since. At the end of Equations of Life, Petrovitch is in hospital awaiting his new heart. So we know he will be ready for more action come volumes 2 and 3.