SF Reviews background image SF Reviews logo image
Contact SF Reviews   |   Get the Newsletter 

Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews

Mappa Mundi

Copyright 2001 by Justina Robson

In Association with Amazon.co.uk
SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Mediocre (2/5)

I first read this on the 1st June 2003.

Natalie Armstrong is working on a software package to control the brain. Her father is in the team working on a biocomputing device to interface with the body. Together, these make a mind-control technology that governments are desperate to use and abuse.

Jude Westthorpe is an FBI agent. For years he's been on the trail of Michail Guskov, a very dangerous, very powerful man. Crucial evidence always eludes him and he now understands that Ivanov is being protected by people at a high level.

It is the near-death of Jude's sister followed by his meeting with Natalie Armstrong that finally give Jude the clues for which he has been searching.

As governments struggle to be the first to deploy this new technology, Jude and Natalie discover that there is very little time left if they are to prevent humanity's perpetual enslavement.

Wow! Justina Robson makes quite an impact with this ambitious and confident novel. She has created powerful characters, not only Natalie and Jude, but also Mary Delaney and Jude's sister, White Horse. This is very good stuff, only occasionally does she get lost in conspiracies and unnecessary complications.

What I particularly like about Ms Robson is that she also writes reviews of SF. I've just read her review of Peter F. Hamilton's "Night's Dawn Trilogy" and by God it's what I would have said, but written years before mine (back in the '90s), and better written to boot. I rather wish I'd read it before writing my reviews. Clearly, however, if she can turn into a novelist, then there's hope for me as well. In fact there's no time like the present. I'll start right now. Here it is, the first words of the first Maximillan novel:

Rod took a deep breath and threw his atomic blaster to his beautiful but mysterious assistant Velda. "Keep these dirty aliens covered while I destroy their evil home world." he shouted as he swept the destructor beam across the surface of the alien planet.
"But, Rod, you can't kill a whole planet! What about the children and the dogs?". "Your Rod is nothing but a cold-blooded killer" snarls the evil alien.
Rod replies "That's right. I've killed women and children. I've killed most everything that walks or crawls at one time or another. And I I'm here to kill you Little Bill, for what you done to Ned."

Bugger, Unforgiven again! Whenever I try to write something with passion and wit, with poise and wisdom, it always ends up drifting, slipping and sliding back into to Clint Eastwood's magnificent Unforgiven . I remember writing a thank-you note for a Christmas gift to my great aunt - I may have had a Tequila or two while I was doing it - and after an hour or two of slaving over the page, found that what I'd actually written was

Dear Aunt Clarissa
Thank you for the galoshes and the comments about my poetry. I don't think it's nice, you laughin'. You see, my mule don't like people laughing. He gets the crazy idea you're laughin' at him. Now if you apologize, like I know you're going to, I might convince him that you really didn't mean it.

I mean that's not right is it? Am I channelling Clint Eastwood? Did I watch "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly" too many times as a kid? I even find myself whistling sometimes.

Amazing Amazon.com don't list this book on their site, leaving Amazon.co.uk to handle the load, which I'm sure is immense, this being such a good book.

Loaded on the 1st August 2003.
Cover of Mappa Mundi
Cover art by Steve Stone

Reviews of other works with covers by Steve Stone:
Burning Tower
Seeds of Earth
Magician's Guild