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Equations of Life Mass Market Paperback – Apr 1 2011


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Amazon.ca First Novel Award - 6 Canadian Novels Make the Shortlist


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; Reissue edition (April 1 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316125180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316125185
  • Product Dimensions: 10.8 x 3.2 x 17.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 181 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #300,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Focused, fun, tale of heroes and gangster villains with a huge SF heart...only the start to something bigger―Gav Reads

About the Author

Dr. Simon Morden holds degrees in geology and planetary geophysics. He was born in Gateshead, England and now resides in Worthing, England. Find out more about Simon Morden atwww.simonmorden.com.

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By DBS on June 13 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I recently got "Equations of Life" and read through it in 3 nights. I had previously read Simon Morden's collection of short stories "Thy Kingdom Come" (available as a free download on his website), which I recommend as an introduction to the characters and setting. All-in-all, it was a good read and I intend to finish the series.

Strengths:
* well-developed and sympathetic characters--characters as diverse as cops and crime lords have believable motivations
* fast-paced and exciting
* memorable setting--a post-apocalyptic/distopian London has been imagined before, of course, but Simon Morden does it in a fresh and skillful manner
* humourous allusions are sprinkled in
* neat speculation on political and scientific developments in an admittedly-grim imagined future

Weaknesses:
* I found that the amount of abuse Samuil Petrovich's body took required a bit too much suspension of disbelief
* in many of the dialogues, it wasn't always clear who was talking
* it was difficult to keep track of all the neighbourhoods and how they were located relative to each other--at least for those of us on this side of the pond; it would be helpful to have a map of the Metrozone included in future novels/editions or as a supplementary feature online

Finally, I'll say that this novel is a good fit in the cyberpunk genre and should appeal to fans of similar works.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I quite enjoyed Equations of Life, and I'm looking forward to reading the remaining two-thirds of the trilogy. A couple of nits: while I found the anti-hero's... well, "anti-heroic" protestations engaging at first, they became increasingly irksome as the story progressed. I felt the same way about his heart problems: a little overdone.

And one little thing: I've never seen the word "Okay" capitalized (consistently) in the middle of a sentence. Is this a convention I don't know about? Even if so, I found it distracting in an otherwise well-edited novel.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 33 reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
More suited to a graphic novel or short story May 18 2012
By Mary E. Young - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
In a post-apocalyptic world, Petrovitch finds himself rescuing a woman from a kidnapping. After rescuing her, he discovers that she is the daughter of a mob boss. He then meets the girl's father, a Japanese gangster, who is working on building a virtual Japan.

I have to admit that I found the book less than appealing. At times it seemed to be just one big chase scene, which works much better in the movies. I could see this book as a graphic novel or a short story, but the author never really explained enough about the world to capture my attention for a full length book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Engaging and action-filled with the feel of an intelligent comic book March 29 2011
By TChris - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Simon Morden's Equations of Life, the first book of a trilogy set in a post-Armageddon future, is an engaging, action-filled novel that has the feel of an intelligently written comic book. Samuil Petrovitch, a radiation-damaged Russian, left his criminal past behind and came to London in 2021 on a physics scholarship. In the novel's opening pages, Petrovich saves a young woman named Sanja from being kidnapped. He escapes death with an assist from an armed nun named Sister Madeleine. Sanja turns out to be the daughter of Oshicora, the boss of a yakuza-style corporate entity that is rapidly becoming the dominant criminal organization in the Metrozone. Oshicora's real passion, however, is the creation of a virtual Japan (the physical Japan having fallen into the ocean during the Armageddon). Sanja's kidnappers were employed by Marchenkho, a Russian mob boss who, having been foiled in his plot to snatch Sanja, is unhappy with Petrovitch. Petrovich is soon dodging Russian and Japanese mobsters while worrying that a police officer named Harry Chain will discover his sordid past. Petrovich's problems (not the least of which is a propensity for heart attacks) multiply when something called the New Machine Jihad mounts an attack on all of the Metrozone's computer systems and manipulates Petrovich into doing its bidding.

Equations of Life tells a fun story that obviously isn't meant to be taken seriously (that, at least, is the inference I draw from the armed nun and wisecracking antihero). We learn little about the supporting characters, but Morden infuses Petrovich with enough personality to make him interesting. The characters have appeared in earlier stories that Morden set in the same post-Armageddon future; I haven't read them so I don't know whether they give the supporting characters more context. Exactly what happened to cause the Armageddon is also unrevealed in the novel; perhaps those facts are made known in the stories or in the remaining books in the trilogy.

While the narrative has the feel of a novel hastily written (the word "literary" will never be used in its description), the story roars along with such speed that Morden's stylistic lapses are easily overlooked. Sometimes the plot is a bit over-the-top (an easily won battle against a horde of zombie-like bums is the novel's epitome of silliness) and it never feels entirely original; bits and pieces seem cobbled together from stories already told. Yet Morden reassembles the familiar into something unique and surprising (although the ending is a bit predictable). On the whole, Equations of Life is a satisfying novel that left me sufficiently interested in Petrovich to make me want to read the next installment.
10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Over-rated May 10 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
After all the positive Amazon reviews, I decided to give this book a try. Be forewarned, there are some vague SPOILERS in this review. It's a really silly story about an impossibly smart kid that not only saves the city from destruction but also solves the unifying equation of the universe. The two are completely unrelated. He just solves the equation in-between saving everyone. There is zero detail into what these equations are or how they were derived. And, of course, he learned math and physics all on his own before creating a false identity to get into a grad school physics program. He's also geeky, rude, and unlikable but, obviously, all of the beautiful girls in the story are falling all over themselves for him. This is really immature stuff.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
action-filled plot, interesting post-apocalyptic setting, and great characters Oct. 1 2011
By C. M. Wilson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Equations of Life by Simon Morden introduces the reader to a fascinating place -- Metrozone, a post-apocalyptic London full of emigrants from the war-torn world who are housed in apartment blocks built out of stacked up shipping containers. Gangs abound, including the Japanese Yakuza who fled when Japan sank into the Ocean, Ukrainians who fled when the Soviet Union & environs were nuked, and disaffected slum-dwellers.

Enter our antihero Samuil Petrovitch, a Russian expatriate mathematics student with a weak heart and a dodgy past. Petrovitch's number one rule is to keep his head down, and he breaks his rule when he steps in to save a girl who is being kidnapped. Suddenly he finds himself the center of attention, right in between the Ukrainians who are angry that he stopped the kidnapping, the Japanese mobster/tycoon father of the girl he saved, and Chain, the dogged policeman who hates the Yakuza. Petrovitch does his best to extract himself from the situation, but his efforts only get him in deeper and deeper. Soon he is battling something called the New Machine Jihad which has the power to control computers and thus buildings, cars, surveillance cameras, communications, etc. However, all is not lost because along the way he meets Madeleine, a tough, sexy, pistol-packing nun who helps him deal with the craziness around him. Adding to the tension is the fact that his artificial heart is on the fritz and needs immediate replacement. He desperately needs to get to the hospital, but is too busy saving the Metrozone.

Petrovitch is a sarcastic, entertaining, and endearingly weak protagonist. He has the previously mentioned bad heart, wears glasses, is nerdy and out of shape. But he is a survivor, and this gives him the edge (well, yes, having Madeleine on his side does sway the odds a bit too -- she is fully capable of lifting him over walls, carrying him over her shoulder, and patching up his wounds). Petrovitch starts the story by insulting an acquaintance, and explains "I've got trust issues, so I don't do the people stuff very well."; but he finishes the story with some close friends who would risk their lives for him.

A great, action-filled plot, a novel and interesting setting, and great characters make this book a success. I will be reading the other books in the series. Right away.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Didn't quite add up for me April 12 2011
By Ripple - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The first of a trilogy of action-packed, cyberpunk adventures to feature Samuil Petrovitch, a clever Russian with a dodgy heart and a dodgier past, set twenty years after Armageddon in the London Metrozone. Gangsters, gang warfare, virtual reality and an unfeasibly large nun all feature.

It's a book that is certainly not short of action. We are not told what the Armageddon event was, although aspects of it are hinted at. Perhaps that will become explained later in the series. What we do know is that it has wiped out Japan, and one of the first victims of the event in London appears to have been the Congestion Charge as it is now a heaving metropolis with gridlock traffic (although this and the masses of people seem to mysteriously evaporate as the story unfolds).

Petrovitch is an entertaining and endearingly horrible central character. He's brilliant, he's self-centred and he has a nice line in sarcastic put downs. He also has a dodgy heart - so perhaps not the greatest person to pin the hopes of the future on. He also has a rich line in swearing - although this is always in Russian. To start with, this is amusing but soon begins to become a little annoying and a bit childish. In saying that though, it's a book that reads much like the storyboard for an action packed software game rather than a book or a movie and so perhaps that young, probably male, teen to adult market is where this book best fits in and therefore perhaps the toning down of the language is to be admired.

The future London is depicted as in the grip of competing gangs of gangsters - the efficient Japanese, the rather seedier Russians and the urban ghetto poor gang based on the Paradise housing estates. Somewhere in the middle is the almost equally corrupt and morally bankrupt police, represented by the bumbling Harry Chain. When Petrovitch breaks his golden rule of not getting involved by rescuing the daughter of the head of the Japanese syndicate from being kidnapped by the Russian gang, he sets off a chain of rapidly unfolding events that drives the plot of the book. Fortunately Petrovitch benefits from the protection of a two metre tall warrior nun (it's best not to ask, I think).

I'm not going to tell you any more about the plot as that is the essence of the book. And there's no doubt that it rattles along and keeps you turning the pages to see how the plot is going to work itself out and to enjoy more of Petrovitch's cynical put downs.

Ultimately though I found it all a bit lightweight. Fortunes swing this way and that but it all gets a bit repetitive as the action ramps up. There are some genuinely interesting ideas, particularly in a virtual reality world, but I never got the sense that it was in a richly imagined world. The ideas seem more plonked into our world as if some things have advanced but others not and there's a lack of explanation of the underpinning ideas. Perhaps these are explained more in future books. Let's hope so.

I'm not the most easily offended of readers, but there are several aspects of this book that I found, at best, in bad taste and, at worst, somewhat offensive in being used to generate action that isn't particularly central to the plot development. At one point there's a train crash reminiscent of a tragic case in the UK a few years ago, and another 9/11 style drone-flying-into-high-rise-building event. And in a world where there is no mention of Arab or Islamic influence, why is the machine uprising referred to as a Jihad? It struck me as gratuitously sensationalist and in questionable taste.

But for all these issues, I won't deny that Petrovitch is an entertaining central character and it may well appeal to a young adult market keen for a high octant, action-packed, cyberpunk romp.


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