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Tricia Sullivan – Double VisionTricia Sullivan is a US born novelist living in the UK. She has published 7 (or 8, depending which website you believe) novels and a number of pieces of short fiction. She has been nominated for a number of awards, and won the Arthur C Clarke for her novel Dreaming in Smoke; and she was one of the Guests of Honour at this year's national SF convention (aka Eastercon).

Karen 'Cookie' Orbach is a shy bookworm, overweight, and an ex police-psychic. Now her problem with her 'TV allergy' is considered a skill, as it allows her to link with Gossamer, an indigene, semi-solid 'flyer' and act as air reconnaissance in a conflict on another planet. It's a strange kind of war she witnesses – the planet is covered in (consists of?) the 'Grid', which grows out of the 'Well' – it's organic, fractal, ever-changing, and evades human understanding and categorisation. You cannot kill – killing the Golems which the Well makes from dead human soldiers just makes them proliferate further. So, all the troops still in the area are now female, to cut down on heroics.

It is not clear if the grid is alive, or intelligent/conscious. But, as we learn, it can make live children out of dead foetuses which have been flushed into it!

But not all is as it seems – in the end Cookie works in Dataplex, which is attached to a research company, and is not physically flying over a strange planet, she only connects to it. Or is she? But she has now taken up Karate, in a bit to change her life around, lose some weight, and get a grip on some of her issues. Except, as I said already, not all is as it seems...

This is a run-of-the-mill SF story within the Grid, and the war in it, but with the 'real' world running in parallel. It poses questions at every turn - what is the Grid? Does it exist outside Cookie's head? What is Machine Front planning in it? Why are they fighting in it anyway? Are there really police psychics? What is Cookie's TV allergy? And what is the marketing research angle which keeps popping up?

The book keeps you in your toes, and unbalanced. You are never sure if what you're  reading is real, and what is virtual, or even imaginary. What is a front, a game, or a hallucination.
If the author does this keeping the reader unbalanced and guessing what is really going on on purpose, then she's doing bloody well.
I don't think acknowledging this really helped my enjoyment of the book, though; overall this, despite being well constructed and written, never really caught me up in its story; maybe just because it kept me guessing, and made me feel slightly uncomfortable.



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Title: Double Vision
Author: Tricia Sullivan
Reviewer: Markus
Reviewer URL: http://thierstein.net
Publisher:  Orbit
Publisher URL: http://www.orbitbooks.co.uk    
Publication Date: 2005
Review Date: 121110
ISBN: 1841493376
Price: UKP 10.99
Pages: 377
Format: Trade Paperback
Topic: SF
Topic: Paranormal

 

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