Although it gets off to a bit of a slow start, now that I'm about half-way through this novel it has me thoroughly hooked. Set in the late 2nd Century A.D., in the reign of the Emperor Commodus, the titular narrator recounts a series of adventures and misadventures which begin when he first manages to gets crosswise with two powerful families and then is falsely accused of treason. Accompanied by his resourceful Greek slave Agathemer, the young Roman aristocrat goes on the run and encounters strange coincidences, good fortune and terrible reversals, and a variety of interesting characters, taking the reader on a fascinating tour of both the upper crust and the underbelly of Roman society at the zenith of the Empire. Definitely worth reading, if you enjoy historical novels about Rome, especially since most tend to be set in the Late Republic and Early Empire.
Excellent hard-boiled detective yarn, with a plot vaguely reminiscent of the 1950 film noir thriller Where Danger Lives. A down-at-the-heels private eye, a dangerous dame, snappy dialog, a touch of comedy, some deft characterization and a surprisingly grim denouement -- really, what more could you ask for?
Although Binary is in the main quite well-written, there's one big problem with basing a science-fiction novel on one of the most well-known Shakespearian tragedies: Once the reader realizes the plot is lifted almost scene-for-scene from King Lear, there just aren't any big surprises. You know what's going to happen with the main characters, although the author fudges it a bit for one of them so the novel doesn't end on as bleak a note as the original play. Also, you can get away with some things in a Shakespearian drama that just don't work so well in a novel, particularly one that's trying for something more epic in its scope.
Although the basic plot is nothing startling, the world this story constructs is well worth checking out. In a post-Apocalyptic wasteland, thousands of years after a nuclear war, humankind survives as scattered nomadic clans constantly at war with each other. What makes this story somewhat unique is the nomads' way of life: each clan builds its own specialized armed and armored vehicles patterned on some form of insect or arachnid, creating a sort of bizarre mechanized Road Warrior-ish bug pseudo-ecology with hints of the Plains Indians thrown into the mix. Existence is a dire, never-ending struggle between the clans for scarce resources, especially fuel and water. But will the clans recognize a new threat to them all in time to unite against it? Okay, this is 1950s-style pulp sf, so I think we all know the answer to that one, but it\'s still worth a read.
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