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Equations of Life [Mass Market Paperback]

Simon Morden
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

April 1 2011 Samuil Petrovich (Book 1)
Winner of the 2012 Philip K. Dick Award

Samuil Petrovitch is a survivor.

He survived the nuclear fallout in St. Petersburg and hid in the London Metrozone - the last city in England. He's lived this long because he's a man of rules and logic.

For example, getting involved = a bad idea.

But when he stumbles into a kidnapping in progress, he acts without even thinking. Before he can stop himself, he's saved the daughter of the most dangerous man in London.

And clearly saving the girl = getting involved.

Now, the equation of Petrovitch's life is looking increasingly complex.

Russian mobsters + Yakuza + something called the New Machine Jihad = one dead Petrovitch.

But Petrovitch has a plan - he always has a plan - he's just not sure it's a good one.

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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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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping post-apocalypse thriller April 2 2013
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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4.0 out of 5 stars New sci-fi trilogy June 13 2011
By DBS
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  31 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars 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
4.0 out of 5 stars 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.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 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.
11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great action-flick! March 31 2011
By Lynossa - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A combination between gun-shooting, self-operating car, advanced technology, run-for-your-life across the streets and Russian curses, you got Equations of Life by Simon Morden. This is a fast-paced, page-turning, full-with-action kind of story about a Russian young man who hid himself from his past in Metrozone - formerly known as London - in post-Armaggedon world. Sam Petrovich preferred to lay low and concentrate only on working on his equation and his passion for science, until he saved a girl who happened to be the daughter of a business/mafia tycoon. Suddenly all eyes on him and everywhere he went, he stumbled upon either Japanese tycoon's man, cops, or Ukraine's gangster.

Reading this felt like watching an action movie, the one that somehow Hollywood able to pull it off and not butchered it into a mediocre action-flick. A smart action movie. Petrovitch is a smart and witty guy; sometimes he can be too bold but I guess that's a right formula for action main character. From the outer world's eye he is just a regular student. He's not the typical of your hero, but not exactly anti-hero either. One thing that add more interest to the story is that Petrovitch has heart problem (literary) so on the brick of dying because of heart failure, Petrovitch had nothing to lose to go all out saving Metrozone. Because I have no knowledge on science the way Petrovitch does, I barely understand all the geek talks, but it didn't stop me from enjoying the book. Though there's one thing that bothered me; sometimes Petrovitch talked in Russian and because my ability in understand Russian is lower than mine in understand cat's talk, I pretty much clueless. I read the egalley so I hope they will add the translation in the finished copy.

This book will appeal to sci-fi lovers, action lovers and dystopian lovers, but if you expect something romantic will happen in this book, you will be disappointed. There's a minor romance but really minor, this is a YA that was written by male author so no mooning and love struck, focus of the book is on saving Metrozone and the author stick with it till the end. This is part one of the series. I'm going to read the second book soon (I have the egalley in me) and will review it. I can't wait to read another Sam Petrovitch's adventures!

In this book, Morden didn't give explanation about the Armageddon; if you're curious and want to know more, you can read for free in here: [...]
8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Over-rated May 10 2013
By Matt - 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.
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