Kudos to Pyr for bringing a number of fine British novels to US readers. The latest I've seen is John Meaney's To Hold Infinity, the author's first novel, which on its appearance in 1998 was shortlisted for the British Science Fiction Association Award for Best Novel.
All that said, while I found To Hold Infinity interesting -- certainly worth reading -- I thought it more a promising first novel than a book worthy of being shortlisted for the best novel of the year -- any year. There are plenty of neat ideas, and some pretty nice action, and a mostly engaging set of characters. But in addition the plot is a bit too driven by coincidence and convenience. Characters figure things out in unrealistic ways. The love stories are almost perfunctory. The nasty villain is an interesting creation, but his comeuppance is terribly underplayed, quite unsatisfying. There is some fairly pointless technobabble. And the book is a great deal too long.
The story concerns a colony world, Fulgar, partly terraformed, on which a very high tech society has developed. The key to the society is an elite group called Luculenti, people who have been technologically enhanced by the addition of plexcores, artificial brains, in a sense. There seems to be some social stratification as a result -- an interesting aspect of this society that is unfortunately underexplored. One of the leading Luculenti is Rafael Garcia de la Vega, but he is a psychopath, who has exploited some new technology to become a sort of mind vampire, capable of sucking the memories and personality of other Luculenti into his own illegally expanded set of plexcores. He concentrates on beautiful and talented women.
Rafael has sponsored an immigrant from Earth, Tetsuo Sunadomari, an expert on the mu-space tech that Rafael uses illegally, for upgrade to Luculentus status. But naïve Tetsuo has stumbled across some explosive information, hinting at corruption within the quasi-police force of Fulgar, the TacCorps. Tetsuo manages to escape to the unterraformed parts of Fulgar, where he falls in with a group devoted, it seems, to preservation of Fulgar in a more natural state.
At the same time Tetsuo's mother, Yoshiko, is coming to Fulgar to visit her son, still mourning her husband's untimely death. She is quickly "adopted," in a sense, by a Luculentus family. Through her eyes we get a view of the fairly interesting Luculentus society. But before long, Rafael intrudes and, somewhat improbably, Yoshiko perceives his villainous nature. And Rafael's latest mind rape is witnessed by Yoshiko, leading to the climax, in which she makes a daring attempt to trap him. All along, Tetsuo and his new friends are working away on what should be quite interesting projects, which come, in the final analysis, to nothing.
So -- there are lots of potentially neat aspects to this book. It certainly shows a writer worth watching. But I can't say that the promise displayed is in quite realized here.