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Justina Robson – Going UnderGoing Under is the 3rd installment in Justina Robson's Quantum Gravity Series (previous books are Keeping it Real and Selling Out), a series currently running to 4 books (not finished AFAIK), and definitely on the up and coming at this point.

And a word of warning – given that this book is part of a series this review will, by default, contain spoilers for the first two books. If that bothers you then go and read these first (worth doing so!), then come back.

The story of Going Under picks up shortly after where Selling Out left off – Lilah is in Demonia, is now married to both Teazle and Zal; and is making (er, slaughtering...) her way through the hundreds of duel challenges she has received. But she is unhappy, and a visit from Malachi, her fairy mentor from Incom (the Otopian National Security Agency, Intelligence and Reconnaissance Division) reinforces her wish to return and touch base. But saying her good-byes doesn't work, the solid effluent hits the air ventilation device, someone (sorry, that would be too much or a spoiler) gets killed whilst fighting a feral super-strong demon whilst searching for Teazle, and things really go down-hill from there.

I won't spill more of the story – the book is generally much darker and menacing than earlier instalments. The feeling is that things are getting real, and really ugly really fast now. To Hell in a Handcart kind of fast. There is much more urgency and drive now in the series, not the previous series of frequently unconnected blunders the protagonists stumbled through; although there is still enough of that, too – the characters never seems to finish something, they always stumble/run headlong into the next world/challenge/complication. There are loads of open ends and stories not told to their conclusion (now try that in Fantasia from the Never-ending Story!).
There seem to be dark machinations everywhere, but especially in Faery (Malachi is much more sinister now) and Otopia. And we see some invisible hands at work, so there are more surprises to come I expect – we now have the first mutterings regarding Lilah's purpose, future, provenance (there's a mystery here), and hints at the overall story arc (and thus end?).

The concepts in the book have moved away from the clear/clean story arcs – stories overlap, cross books (the first half of this books is still part of the Demonia trip, which provides the set-up for the next one: Faery). Not sure if that's planned, or if that's just where the books break, either for length or for time it took the author to writen them (so far so Douglas Adams, really).
And whilst the book is darker it is also much less clear-cut black/white or good/bad – a lot of earlier positions get relativated, and we're shown that things are more complex and less simplistic than we believed (were led to believe?). Overall this is very good – if Justina keeps this up then she'll start moving towards some of the characteristics which made Karen Traviss Wess'har Wars series so great!

The weakest point in the book I found to be Lila's Imp Thingamajig, who simply serves to spell out Lila's insecurities, hang-ups, thought processes and shortfalls of personality that keep her from doing the right things and from being happy. Yes, she still carries that cheap hangover from Hell...

What else is to be said? Props to Justina for not being afraid to kill off long-standing protagonists that the reader has come to love and root for – losing them hurts! I found that the Demonia parts go particularly well with a Marilyn Manson soundtrack, no specific recommendations for the rest, though.

I'm seriously warming to the franchise; so the 4h book is on its way, and the whole series comes recommended, if that's ok with you?

More Justina Robson

Title: Going Under
Series: Quantum Gravity
Series Number: 3
Author: Justina Robson
Reviewer: Markus Thierstein
Reviewer URL:
Publisher:  Gollancz
Publisher URL:
Publication Date: 2008
Review Date: 1107010
ISBN: 9780575078673
Price: UKP 12.99
Pages: 281
Format: Trade paperback
Topic: Science Fantasy
Topic: Mecha


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