Another Watts book. This one is about half-way between the near-genius of Blindsight and the sludge of his Rifters/Maelstrom series. On the plus side, many of the "space" parts of the story were well done. The approach to Icarus station and the Sun were great, as was the actual encounter at Icarus Station. Heck, even the return and re-entry to Earth was interesting. For a biology guy, Watts actually does a really good job laying out future spacecraft and their orbital maneuvers. I also enjoyed the meta-elements of the story, as the characts from Blindsight communicate back to the characters in this book. It was neat and put a different spin on the original story. And in general, Watts is a fast paced, hi-plot, hi-action writer which helps make his books very readable.
On the downside, you have the standard Watts' flaws. His books are very GrimDark, always so GrimDark. You can just assume that God (the author) has it out for humanity, and will weight the dice so that they are eliminated as quickly as possible. Also, everything is biological for some reason. Well, ok, the reason is that the author is a biologist. But it still doesn't make the sci-fi better. One glaring instance of this "everything must be done through biology" theme is the crowd control virus. In order to stifle dissent and protesters, viral weapons are used to turn people into zombies. It's like, uh, wtf? Is that really the best way to handle a sit in? Why not just attach some tasers to some drones? Companies/police departments are doing that already, its dead simple and cheap and doesn't have any possibility of causing a pandemic. I mean, both methods are pretty horrible, but one horrible method of crowd control actually makes sense. In keeping with the bio-theme, there are also the vampires from Blindsight, who are even more annoying this time around. They've since become Wuxi-monks, able to move faster than cameras, and able to manipulate people by tapping their chi points and so on. Hmm, what else. There is religion in this book, which is handled better than it could have been, but is still kind of annoying each time it comes up. There's also the trend of stupid-smart people. This is a perennial problem, of how do you represent a super-intelligent character when you are only an intelligent author? I thought that Watts really fell down with his genius-group-mind in this regard. Despite their in-book genius, they have 3 failings in a row which I think that any reasonably competent video game player would avoid. 1) If you're running across a large open area, and someone might be gunning for you, don't run in a straight line (any Arena Shooter) 2) If something seems off to you, it is probably because it is (Legend of Grimrock) 3) If a scorpion asks you to carry it on its back, don't. Really, just don't, it will turn out exactly how you think it would. For the story's vampire genius, Watts handles the issue of intelligence a bit better. He just gives the vampires endless Xanatos-gambits.
Anyway. EchoPraxia is not a great book, but it is at least an interesting book. And I'm interested to see where Watts goes next. Well, not next-next, as I'm sure his next book in this series will just be the same world ending sludge as we got with Rifters. But I would like to see the next series that he creates.