4 out of 4 stars
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Entropy Angels by Mark Harritt is an action-focused science fiction novel following Gregor Skotta, a very skilled contract hacker. He works in the largest habitat in the solar system, New Eden. It's a capitalist environment rife with androids, genetic modification, and millions of people all looking out for themselves and their next payday, but it's also the only home he's ever known. After a routine job goes horribly wrong, Skotta stumbles upon a plot that threatens to destroy New Eden and the lives of everyone in it.
As a setting, New Eden is fascinating. Skotta uses sci-fi tools, like enhanced combat reflexes and advanced combat armor, alongside modern-day technology like cell phones, wifi, and pistols. These elements exist in an odd sort of balance, creating an anachronistic setting that's really quite unique. There are also lots of interesting details about the habitat itself, like the plankton/krill farm that produces protein and oxygen for everyone living in New Eden, or the Guild composed of engineers serving as a de facto government. All told, it's a rich backdrop that produces unique plot points and conflicts.
The pacing of this book is also very well-executed. It's extremely light on the character development and moral examination that science fiction often attempts to tackle, leaving a lot of room for self-indulgent fight scenes that use the unique setting to great effect. The hopeless situations Skotta gets himself out of all have satisfying resolutions that often get him into even more trouble, and his peril always seems real and high-stakes. In one instance, he purposefully gets himself into trouble with the Guild to avoid bounty hunters trying to kill him. Overall, this focus on action makes for a very fun and tense read.
Of course, this book is still far from perfect. Skotta himself is a typical action protagonist who ogles nearly every woman he meets, and they all happen to be stunningly attractive. This goes against the fact that New Eden is a harsh environment, to say nothing of the trend of modifying one's body to emulate animals. I would've loved to see these stereotypical elements done away with. Skotta is also a bit unlikeable due to the hypocrisy of deriding "wage slaves" for trying to forget their existences with prostitutes and virtual reality, despite enjoying prostitutes himself. At one point, Skotta even needs to use a timed electric shock to avoid becoming trapped in the thrall of virtual reality. There are a few distracting misspellings and miscellaneous grammatical errors, too.
If I could, I would rate it 3.5 stars. Despite its flaws, I had a great deal of fun reading Entropy Angels, so I rate it 4 out of 4 stars. An extremely unique and detailed setting and well-executed action scenes make this book a great choice for readers who love action-packed science fiction. Fans of high-concept novels might be disappointed by the lack of character development and moral questions, and sexual content makes it unsuitable for younger audiences.
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