I was all too happy to be offered the chance to review ‘Their Greatest Game’, the sequel to Tavenor’s ‘First of Their Kind’ (which I previously reviewed here). It further develops the questions that were raised in the first novel; what does it mean to be human? What is a soul? Which path will humankind choose in its evolution? Will humankind even survive?
I smashed my way through it in two sittings, which tells you how compelling it is.
Unfortunately, I do have a couple of minor criticisms:
Firstly – there were rare occasions when the dialogue felt a bit flat or didn’t ‘ring true’- I am sure these will be picked up in the final edit, as the copy I had was an uncorrected proof.
Secondly – as I mentioned in my previous review, I have a clarity problem with the singular use of ‘they’ in prose; in this case, referring to the ‘SI’ (Synthetic Intelligence), Theren. Being written predominantly from the viewpoint of Theren, there were times when the number of ‘they’s and / or ‘their’s in a paragraph got confusing – was the author referring to Theren, and / or a group which may or may not include Theren, or a different singular ‘they’, entirely? In response to my last review, Tavenor said that he appreciated that my ‘discomfort with the use of the singular ‘they” was partially a product of my own mind. It isn’t discomfort – it’s irritation at a lack of clarity in what I’m reading. I understand that language develops (the singular ‘they’ has been around since at least the 1300s, though not used in exactly the same way) and I’ll call a person by whichever pronoun they wish – but there were several occasions where the subject of the sentence wasn’t clear enough, and I began to get annoyed with having to go back and check who was being referred to.
This is something to be borne in mind not only by Tavenor but future writers, as well, as this particular usage of the singular ‘they’ becomes more commonplace; as a lover of languages in general and English in particular, I am interested in seeing how written English adapts to this.
Though it may not seem like it after those last few paragraphs(!), I really do enjoy Tavenor’s writing and he has much to offer; he has good ideas and deep thoughts – and gets both across well, he knows how to pace a story (and leave you wanting more), his characterisation is strong and tech jargon convincing (always good in an SF novel), and there are some nicely clever uses of plot devices.
I’d highly recommend reading it, but definitely suggest reading ‘First of their Kind’ beforehand.
Theren, the first synthetic intelligence, has risen to power as the Director of the International Space Agency. They have everything they need to push humanity toward final acceptance of its synthetic counterparts. Thousands of SIs live on Earth, the Moon, and throughout the solar system.
Yet opposition remains to Theren’s plans. Powerful foes rise, ready to strike back.
Jill, the second SI, forges her own path into the future. Only together will Theren and Jill succeed, but both synthetics have targets painted squarely on their heads . . .
I do not get paid for this blog and received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.