A new space opera set with interstellar colonists and two unlikely forces which have joined together to investigate a mysterious suicide assault that has destroyed the life support system of a major waystation.
Where This Alien Shore was ahead of its time, This Virtual Night feels oddly dated. Many elements that wouldn’t have seemed out of place in the nineties land flatly now ... it affects a kind of half-hearted Luddism, critiquing the dangers of over-connection, the addicting and reality-warping potential of video games and social media. Whatever germ of truth there might be to that message, its delivery—from the mouths of cyborgs, in totally artificial space habitats—makes it seem hypocritical, at best ... The novel feels strongest where it can stick to adventuring. While it’s plagued by some spatial issues—a few plot points are difficult to visualize—the rhythm of Ru and Micah getting into tricky spots and out again makes for a good romp, playing up their different skills and weaknesses. Ivar’s subplot—an attempt to regain his place in a violent world of gangsters—feels disconnected from the rest of the book, but the stakes are more immediate, and it makes a counterpoint to Ru and Micah’s increasingly cute relationship.
The speculative fiction author’s latest space opera, second in the Outworlds series, has a brand new cast of characters and is set in the same fascinating universe of mutated humans and bustling intergalactic trade ... The novel is in tight third person with alternating point of view chapters ... This time around, Friedman’s main characters feel more engaging ... Though we know very little of their pasts, Ru and Micah’s actions clearly demonstrate their strong character. Their interactions and deepening relationship unfold organically, in direct comparison to the first book’s depictions of relationships as a means to an end. The two also have an interesting dynamic with the scarred and self-interested character Ivar ... Friedman’s sequel further explores a huge and textured setting and investigates the concept of a technology that connects directly to the human brain ... At its core, This Virtual Night feels like a classic space opera adventure ... C.S. Friedman knows how to craft a solid science fiction novel. This Virtual Night is a fast read due to deft pacing, a fun plot, and skillful world building.
The long-awaited second entry in Friedman’s Outworlds series will only whet the appetites of hard sci-fi fans for more adventures set in Friedman’s expertly rendered vision of the future ... Friedman perfectly balances action and characterization while keeping up a page-turning pace. Readers won’t want to put this one down.