Sunday, January 30, 2011
Cowboy Angels by Paul McAuley.
Cowboy Angels by Paul McAuley combines the genre of alternate history with thriller writing. The Real is an America where Alan Turing created the theories which led to gates to alternate histories called Turing gates. There are some wonderfully dry thoughts on Schrodinger's Cat in association with the Turing gates.
This is Paul McAuley's best book. I like the main character Adam Stone, an orphan who is recruited into the CIA to change the course of different alternate histories preventing fascism, communism, and rebuillding where there is nuclear war. The descriptions of the visits to alternate America's are wonderful.
Paul McAuley successfully creates a sense of different Americas. There are descriptions of the art of The American Bund where for a short time the "Dear Leader" created monumental art, or the space where an atom bomb fell devastating areas of Manhattan.
I also like that the story starts in the past in 1983 when Carter is elected in the Real. This makes it feel like both a historical novel and an alternate history novel. The novel touches on so many different styles of writing.
Adam Stone is a very hardcore character. He shoots, interrogates, suffers beatings, and keeps on going. He is after a secret plot to change the alternate histories timeline. His actions are extreme, violent, and polemical. This may turn some people off, but I found it interesting.
Most of the technology is todays technology. The money is similar, the guns are similar, the art and culture are different. The differences are often philosophical. Adam Stone describing his past actions as an agent of the "Real" is describing a form of imperialism which can be hard to stomach. He kills for his countries beliefs.
The novel hinges on many philosophical and political ideals. Is it right to create one America under many skies? Is it manifest destiny to push your will in different worlds?
This is a fantastic story. It is full of constant surprises, strongly opposed ideals, and constant tension. It does not end they way you might expect it would. This book will create strong opinions for and against the story.