One of my facebook friends, Bryan Perkins, was kind enough to send me a copy of his new science fiction novel “The Asymptote’s Tail” for review recently. I finished late last night and I wanted to share a few thoughts on the book.
“The Asymptote’s Tail” is the first of a planned four books in the Infinite Limits series. The story takes place in the future when humanity seemingly can provide for its needs through 3D printers and is able to bend the very fabric of space itself. In this future, space is bent in such a way that seven worlds exist, most of them ignorant of each other. The perspectives and interactions of those worlds are told through seven characters: a servant, a young girl, an actor, a cat (yes a cat), a police officer, an assembly line worker and a scientist.
The work is successfully able to mix life-like characters, storytelling and radical politics in a manner that is not dogmatic or stale. The fictional world, its politics, class structure is developed throughout the work. Those of you who love fantasy world building such as found in Game of Thrones will be intrigued.
The themes of the book raise a number of questions that are very contemporary. What happens when humanity’s productive powers have gotten out of control of their makers? What is a “good cop” to do in a system that values property more than human lives? What can those with “privilege” do in the struggle for a better world – are we bought off? And what do we do when can pierce through the veils that prevent us from seeing how the system operates? What choices then confront us?
I don’t want to give away too much of the plot here, since I would recommend that everyone pick up a copy of “The Asymptote’s Tail.” This is the first novel by Perkins and it shows a great deal of promise for what proves to be not only a really great story thus far, but shot through with radical politics. For science fiction fans, here is a new author to engage with. Although even if you are not politically radical at all or even interested in science fiction, it is worth reading just for the story and the characters.
I, for one, look forward to the sequels.
Thanks again Bryan for letting me read a copy.
The narrative develops from seven unique points of view and protagonists ranging from an android to a kitty cat; most of whom are ignorant of the world in which they live (the cat, ironically, not being among the ignorant!). But is their ignorance bliss, or is there something sweeter? Conversely: Is the world they know as innocent as it seems, or much, much darker?
Each of the seven characters are given three chapters and their stories unfold and interweave cyclically with overlap and recapitulation aplenty. Think along the lines of a batting order: You run through the line up and then return to its top.
The narrative really hits its stride on the second cycle when you are able to connect some of the dots from the preceding chapters and even anticipate future ones. If you’ve ever seen the movie Crash, it is structured similarly. What could initially be mistaken as several isolated stories come together beautifully at the end – answering some questions while asking still more.
The novel smacks of Orwell’s 1984; a parallel not lost on or unintended by Perkins, who cites it among his inspirations. There is a malicious governing force at work controlling not just information but also those who possess it…Or so they think. A little censoring here, a touch of propaganda, priming, or misinformation there…As The Asymptote’s Tail progresses, you’re given hints as to the existence of the proverbial wizard behind the curtain, but I believe there’s more yet to be revealed. And I for one am burning with questions!
There are lots of book club discussion fodder here on topics like class systems, privilege, consumerism, rights, the possession and availability of information, ignorance, and more. I’ll be turning others in my circles on to the book just so we can have the joy of comparing notes and hashing out opinions and perspectives both from the novel’s world and our own.
The Asymptote’s Tail is the first in what is to be a series of four entitled Infinite Limits, and it does a
fantastic job of forging its own unique world and setting itself up for future works replete with the unresolved and curiosity piquing.
And this is accomplished within a single work that finishes well; striking a solid balance between what is accomplished and what is yet to come. Sure, you could read it without the knowledge of or need for future sequels, but I’m not sure how.
Even apart from Perkins’ promise of a yet-to-come story at the end of the last chapter and the explicit “End of Book One” just a few sentences beyond that, the world itself is rife with questions that left me somewhat wishing I weren’t getting in on the ground floor of this series! I mean, when I turn the last page of one of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books I have the luxury of being able to immediately pick up the next. With Infinite Limits I have to wait, but book one gave me no reason to believe Perkins can’t deliver.
I hope I’ve done a good enough job of communicating my recommendation throughout the review, but just in case you need something a bit more explicit, here it is:
The Asymptote’s Tail is the beginning of a very promising sci-fi epic that you’ll not want to miss.
As Bryan Perkins continues to build out his world and the characters therein, I will be there. The foundation has been laid for what I have every reason to believe will be a series of note. Available through Amazon by way of Kindle ($5) or paperback ($13), The Asymptote’s Tail is a worthy addition to your digital or analogue library. And as the story continues, we hope to host subsequent and equally positive reviews for the rest of the Infinite Limitsseries here at Nerds on Earth.
Bryan Perkins has crafted the first volume of what looks to be one of the most engaging series I’ve read in a great while! The Asymptote’s Tail is a must read for anyone who enjoys finely honed dialogue, dynamic world-building, and complex, yet relatable characters. Told from multiple character perspectives, you get fully realized protagonists & and a universe that is completely unique and innovative.
Highly recommend series and a new author to keep you eyes on!
By Chris Chemel
Asymptote’s Tail was a great read! I’ve been looking for a solid sci-fi story for a while and I am glad I found this book. A wonderful blend of future technology with the author’s striking outlook on the future. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction novels.