Thursday, December 29, 2005

 

Just Read: Ice Station

Ice Station was the first book by Matthew Reilly that most people saw (his first book, Contest, was originally self-published, and so didn't get a giant print run). It was also a massive hit in Australia. I'd been keen to read it for years, since it seemed right up my alley - a team of marines is sent in to investigate remote antarctic base where they may have just found a UFO.

Reilly's philosophy of storytelling is simple. Action movies are lots of fun. And since you don't have to worry about a special effects budget in a book, why not go all out? So Ice Station, as you'd expect, is pretty much a roller coaster ride of gun fights, explosions, improbably coincidences and kick-arse heroes.

Oh, and it's lots of fun.

My biggest criticism of Ice Station is that a lot of the time, it seems like Reilly it writing an episodic TV show, where he can never be sure that the audience has seen last week's episode. He often repeats himself from chapter to chapter, re-explaining why characters make decisions they did, where they got information from, sometimes even who they are (his third novel, Temple, suffers from the same problem, but not to the same degree. So I guess he's improving). It really did seem like I could have started the book at any chapter and been able to work out everything that had happened previously. Fortunately, Reilly is fantastic at writing action scenes (my favourite was probably a hovercraft chase/battle), so they more then make up for the slower moments.

Naturally, since it's really just an action movie, the story doesn't stand up to too much nit-picking. But I was there for the explosions, not accurate descriptions of a killer whale's hunting style.

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