Gollancz, out now
Decades after Roboteer Will Monet forced a peace on the warring factions of humanity, a new threat has arisen…
Alex Lamb’s sequel to his debut novel Roboteer doesn’t start where you’d expect, and it’s a long time into the story before all the pieces fall into place so that you discover what happened in the years between the end of the first book and the start of this one. This works for the benefit of those who haven’t read Roboteer (although I would strongly advise doing so, not only for the various bits of backstory that aren’t explained in detail, but also because it’s a highly enjoyable read) as old and new readers are on something of a level playing field. Certainly, there are key characters from the first book who simply aren’t here, and their absence is felt by those who remain.
With each chapter once again subdivided into sections from different characters’ points of view, the story progresses rapidly, once some initial scene-setting is out of the way, as the nature of the threat becomes clearer. Lamb constantly throws new twists at the reader, particularly in the way that he finds means to sideline Will’s immense powers so that he can’t simply impose his own solution on a situation without making matters worse.
There’s a hard SF element to Nemesis, and a lot of the story, and the choices the characters made, are based around computer modelling, and how changing even the simplest variable can turn a situation from triumph to disaster. Lamb makes some salient points about immigration and integration, although there’s the odd moment where subtext does come a bit too much to the fore (the discussion about poverty particularly springs to mind).
The surprises continue right through to the epilogue, and Lamb has set up a situation that I’m looking forward to seeing resolved – although at this moment, I wouldn’t care to predict which society of those that exist at the end is likely to triumph.
Verdict: An engrossing, well-paced and enjoyable SF novel. 8/10