You would think that with a title like ‘The Noise Within’ that author Ian Whates had produced a book to justify the title. The problem is it doesn’t. The title is actually the name of a missing Artificial Intelligence driven spaceship that has gone missing and has now come back to human space and the pursuit of it once its realised that its back. From there, you have a series of distractions to the characters, none of whom seem to be much different from each other that makes you wonder why you should want to root for them. In fact, summing up the plot element, you wonder how they found the spaceship in the first place because there’s a real lack of information. When you have it and the characters explaining what has gone on rather than experience the things close up, you have the equivalent of looking at a newspaper to find out what has gone on.
We’re not even given any strong awareness of where human space is so you don’t really have any sense of this reality in the first place and a lot of the time events happen behind the scenes that you’re told what happens later and left trying to wonder how the dots were joined. I suspect Whates knows where he’s going but he’s internalising and not really telling the reader. If you can’t care for what is going on, you do end up wondering why you’re reading but I’m just a reviewer and this is what I do.
There’s a sequel and I hope this was resolved there but can’t help feeling that the story was sold on the idea and the author had to fit the story into that and came up short. Be wary.
(pub: Solaris/Rebellion. 334 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-906735-64-7)
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