Singularity Hardcover – Sep 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
DeSmedt's debut SF thriller, a brisk Michael Crichton clone, vividly depicts the Tunguska event that leveled a big patch of Siberia in 1908, then shifts to the near-future, where warrior woman Marianna Bonaventure is working for CROM (Critical Resources Oversight Mandate), the U.S. Department of Energy's branch for dealing with loose WMD talent. Meanwhile, in Siberia, scientist Jack Adler discovers that Tunguska was actually hit by a microscopic black hole, not a meteorite. Marianna and an intuitive analyst, Jonathan Knox, are assigned to infiltrate the gigantic yacht Rusalka, owned by the Russian billionaire Arkady Grishin, who is on the trail of something odd. It turns out that Grishin is not who he seems and his motives for finding the Tunguska object are a great deal more sinister than anyone had supposed. The book bounces along, from well-developed scenes to lesser ones and back again, with a good deal of deft if not particularly original characterization. The sexual chemistry between Marianna and Jonathan adds spice. Exotic hardware, lifestyles of the rich and notorious, double- and triple-crosses and a slightly rushed and facile conclusion all make a respectable if not outstanding first effort.
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The novel is gripping from the very beginning. It has spies, killers, not-so-altruistic scientists, and consultants ... yes, consultants - but these are not the same ones that read your watch and tell you what the time is. The characters are smart, witty and engaging. I found myself wishing my plane ride was longer so I could continue reading!
There are various storylines cleverly weaved together. I kept wishing I could read faster so I could find out what is happening to protagonists Jonathan Knox and Marianna Bonaventure. The unexpected twists and suspense reminds you of The DaVinci Code - but Singularity is so much better. The story is just so solid, witty and smart.
As for the writing, Singularity is beautifully written - similar to CRYPTONOMICON or even My Life as a Geisha or The Grapes of Wrath - you are transported into the characters lives and into exotic locations. The writing is witty and delicious. It is also a smart read - the author weaves the story around a mysterious microscopic black whole. You unwittingly learn more physics than you expect. He brings in science more artfully than Michael Crichton.
In addition to the great story and writing, the characters are clever and interesting. There is a strong female protagonist that is smart, can take care of herself (a la Alias) and knows how to wear Gucci. The male character - now there is a real man!
The one negative is that the book had to end. I can't wait until the sequel comes out.
Why 5 stars? In addition to an (very) interesting plot, the writing is very good, the physics is excellent and (gasp!) several of the characters are very, very well done. There is a believable heroine (and a sort of hero), an excellent "baddy" (actually a couple of them) and a couple of guys to round out the cast. All of them are fleshed out well enough so that one can tell who is speaking even if you skip ahead a few lines. And DesMedt makes us care about all of them.
This book literally has something for everyone. Black holes, quantum mechanics and more (don't want to spoil anything for anyone), Russian history and politics, action, romance (well, sort of) computers and technobabble. What a great combo.
The dust jacket says he is working on a sequel. I can't wait.
The basic plot of the book revolves around a black hole that crashes into the earth. While this may make the book sound like science fiction, it actually reads more like the Da Vinci Code (though I think the writing in Singularity is better). It's one of those books I just didn't want to put down because I wanted to see what would happen next.
The characters in the book were quite believable and quite diverse. From the consultant (when was the last time you saw a consultant as the hero?) to the Russian billionaire, their words and actions made sense and had a purpose besides just moving the story along.
I also appreciated that I didn't see any distracting errors in the facts in the book. I even learned a few things about black holes (painlessly I might add).
My summary: well written, engaging, thought provoking, enjoyable. Glad I read it.
Jeff Edwards, author of `Torpedo: A Surface Warfare Thriller'