Review – Binary by Stephanie Saulter

Posted: June 10, 2014 in Sci-Fi
Tags: ,

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In Binary Stephanie Saulter has created an evocative and wonderfully crafted story. Following the success of her debut novel, Gemsigns ,the first in this Revolution series, Saulter’s near/far future Britain is a deft piece of world building that allows her to capture and explore the chaotic nature of human society and all it’s flaws and blessings. If you’ve yet to read Gemsigns please do. Although you would still be able to enjoy Binary as a stand alone, the way Saulter defined and crafted her setting and it’s characters is beautifully done in the first book.

Like her debut, Binary is a tight, highly crafted story that weaves a number of plot lines, all the while ratcheting up the tension, into a thrilling conclusion. Once again, the novel revolves around the notion of genetically engineered humans (Gems) and the industry that created them. Whilst in the first book, we were treated to the politics of Gems being integrated into ‘norm’ society, the second delves further into the history and meaning behind the business of engineering humans.

Gems have now been legally accepted as human and the cultural thinking has swayed in support of these former indentured slaves to be treated as equals. But that offers up another set of issues, ones which the industry that created Gems is keen to exploit – though for reasons not as obvious as one might think. Whilst Gemsigns took its time to build the world and set the scene, Binary drops us into that setting at a pace, dealing with all the implications and intrigue of a world changed by disease, genetic modification and a stalled technology.

Rather than using a hammer, Saulter adroitly encourages the reader to consider notions of difference in a framework that mirrors things such as racism. However, all the while, the story builds against this backdrop and it is a thriller. Industrial espionage, hidden science labs, secret histories and an explosive and satisfying final act.

Saulter’s world is brilliantly defined and her characters are superb. Each with a distinct voice, a history and a role in the story. There is little chaff here and much to admire about how she has truly captured a future setting with all it’s mess and madness, it’s order and disorder, it’s differences and similarities and it’s sheer humanity. Personally, I can’t wait for Stephanie Saulter’s next piece of work.

Review copy
Published by Jo Fletcher books

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