It’s been a while since I wrote a review, but I figured I’d write one, both to stay in shape and because I’m trying to get better about reading more books and I want to make sure that I don’t neglect my writing too much as I do so.
Disclosure: Paul Cook was a professor of mine at ASU years ago. I never checked out any of his work while I was taking his class on writing science-fiction, but I’ve been on something of a nostalgia trip.
On the Rim of the Mandala starts off with an introduction to a world and characters that bring timeless themes and concepts together: class, race, vices and virtues, and other issues interplay throughout the novel, but the first and foremost outstanding element is the depth of the story and the angst of Lou Colleran.
An immortal in a world that has changed and changed without much of his say in it, Colleran finds himself searching for agency, suffering from immortality blues as he watches centuries of loved ones and familiar faces come and go.
Despite Colleran’s transhuman existence, he is very much living and vibrant as a character, and his interactions with other members of the Authority play a major role in the story. The setting is intriguing; I would rate it up with the Expanse and Altered Carbon in its complexity and the depth it conveys. Although I had a few qualms with the way the exposition was carried out (to avoid spoilers, certain setting elements get explained right at the tail end of the first few chapters, but Colleran deals with them earlier).
This isn’t a story that answers every question, but it’s better that way. Although the ending is blisteringly fast, it is thought-provoking, and it blends the styles of classic science fiction with modern themes and questions that go deeper into the human condition; it is not a statement on a single issue, but rather a questioning and examination of what our universe could be, a paragon of what science fiction can be.
Disclaimer: Although I am not compensated for writing these reviews, I do receive affiliate rewards when suggested titles are purchased on Amazon.