More Larry Niven than Michael Crichton, “Casimir Bridge” does Hard SF well but struggles for traction as a thriller.
“Casimir Bridge” is an award-winning technothriller that combines deep space exploration and advanced technology with vicious corporate intrigue and global power struggles. The last thing I expected when I started this book, was to be abandoning it at 75%.
For me, the book got off to a weak start with a device I hate, a prologue. It was a short chapter that started in the middle of some action, ended with violence and was followed by a “One Week Earlier” heading before chapter two. The prologue wasn’t badly done but I think it was a poor editing decision. To me, it shows a lack of confidence in either the reader or the writing. It says “let’s show them some action at the beginning so we don’t lose them while we’re setting up.”
I enjoyed the next part, which set up the good guys, the bad guys, and the likeable outsider to whom everything could be explained, in this case, a young reporter who actually investigates things.. There was some explanation of the technology and a little world building. Then, for reasons I still don’t understand, we headed off for a Zulu dance festival where our young reporter turns out to be part of the privileged elite. What that added to the plot or the characterisation still isn’t clear to me.
By thirty-two per cent I was wondering if I would continue with the book. I liked the idea of intrigue on an interplanetary scale, larded with big dollops of hard science but I wasn’t connecting with it on a personal level. Then the plot took a turn, our young reporter was rescued from a dire situation by a tall, dark and handsome, respectful, competent, quietly-alpha male and real thriller stuff started to happen at some speed.
So I continued, initially because I wanted to know what would happen next, and then because the science was interesting.
I stopped at seventy-five per cent when I realised I no longer had anything more than a mild curiosity about what would happen next.
When I’m reading a thriller, I expect to be keen to find out what happens and or be committed to the success of at least one character. Neither the lead good guy nor the lead bad guy had much going for them to hold my interest. The politics was too superficial to offer any surprises and, although our young reporter still offered some interest, the action was constantly slowed while we examined some aspect of space technology.
More Larry Niven than Michael Crichton, “Casimir Bridge” does Hard SF well but struggles for traction as a thriller. If your main interest is in space science, spiced with strategy games, I think you’ll have fun with this. If you really want a thriller, I doubt this will do it for you.