Murder in the Solid State

Posted by : atcampbell | On : January 5, 1999

Murder in the Solid State by Wil McCarthy

Eleven people attended this meeting. This meeting’s book, Murder in the Solid State, is a near-future thriller about a young physicist who has been implicated in the murder of a prominent scientist. Suspecting that the local police intend to do him harm, he evades incarceration as he looks to prove himself innocent and find the real killer.

We felt that McCarthy’s prose style was engaging, and the plot kept us all turning the pages. Some of the characters were memorable and original, particular the protagonist’s best friend. We felt that this was overall a good story and would recommend it as a decent reading experience, but no one considered the book anything special.

Our main problem with this book is that it was not what we expected to read. While the cover material markets this book as “hard SF”, we didn’t feel that the scientific component of the plot was large enough to justify this label. We felt that the book was more appropriately considered a thriller in the tradition of Michael Crichton’s work. While it was a successful thriller, those of us hoping for a novel full of bold scientific extrapolation and big ideas were disappointed.

At the end of the discussion, we picked new books for the reading schedule: To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, The Border by Marina Fitch, A King of Infinite Space by Allen Steele, Jack Faust by Michael Swanwick, Mars Underground by William K. Hartmann, Greenwar by Steven Gould & Laura Mixon, and Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman.

— A. T. Campbell, III