November 15, 2022

Review: Ymir

Ymir Ymir by Rich Larson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Cyberpunk is a relatively new genre of science fiction, generally agreed to have been started by William Gibson with his 1984 novel Neuromancer (with its classic opening line of "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel"--although that's a bit dated now, I guess). Since then there have been many different twists on the genre. This one combines cyberpunk with space opera, to middling effect.

Not that Rich Larson isn't an exciting new author. He turns out short stories like most authors do paragraphs (more than two hundred according to this book's Author's Notes) and I've read quite a few of them. His collection, Tomorrow Factory, is excellent. This is a novel-length expansion of those themes, with the addition of a frozen planet, an exploitative corporation, and ancient tech from a vanished race that has reawakened to spread havoc.

This is also supposed to be loosely based on Beowulf, but the only reference I can see is the name of the cyborg monster, called "grendel." Our protagonist Yorick is called back to the titular planet Ymir twenty years after he left to kill the grendel. Yorick carries all sorts of baggage with him, which is gradually revealed through the story. He is not a particularly likable character, although we come to understand him along the way. In the end, he does face up to the demons he left behind, and manages to sort of repair his relationship with his estranged brother.

This is okay, I suppose, but I didn't like it as well as other things I've read by the author. If you're just getting into Rich Larson, spring for the above-mentioned short story collection. That will give you a better idea of what he can do.

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