Monday, April 13, 2015

Review:: Artifact, by Gregory Benford

Title: Artifact
Author: Gregory Benford
Format: eBook
Rating: ★☆☆☆☆

If you can handle misogynistic, xenophobic, americancentric novels with shallow plots, poor characterization, and severe genre identity issues as long as the science is good, you will love this book! The sad part? How often you have to put up with all of that, just for a little hard scifi.

A tall, unattractive (but striking) woman whose thighs make a "scchk" noise when she walks in jumpers and wears garters rather than pantyhose is constantly sexually harassed and propositioned as she does highly illegal and unethical things because archaeology and foreign people are evil and have laughable politics. Haha, let us laugh at Greece's plight! No, literally. They giggle over the workers issues. Then hells yeah AMERICAN SPIES come and save the day from quantum badness. No one ever remarks on the fact that if America had never stolen the artifact, it would never have become super dangerous.

Which, in my opinion, is the best part of this awful, awful book because it's such a great metaphor for so much of the US's foreign policy. If we hadn't done something stupid, we wouldn't be cleaning up this muck!

Mmm, by the by... part of the reason we know so many details about the female protag is because male characters are constantly undressing her with their eyes. The first chapter is from her POV, and basically sets the urgency of the book... the urgency being that Evil Greek Politician Archaeologist is sexually harassing her at her dig site and because she won't sleep with him, he's going to kick her off the dig but no, she found something cool and the Evil Greeks can't be trusted with their own legacy! Also, he might steal her credit! Because he's Evil and Greek!

In the second chapter, she goes to find a metallurgist to help her with some stuff and things. We get treated to her talking to a guy about archaeology and then get to (from his POV) hear how he's less interested in her science and more interested in finding out what she looks like without her clothes on. In fact, we later find out that he lied to her about being a metallurgist because she was so hot he couldn't control himself and couldn't let her go to Greece without him getting a chance to hit that.

No mater where the protag goes, she's sexually harassed. To the point it feels like the author is trying to write a romance novel for a bit and failing terribly. (Or awfully succeeding, depending on how you look at it.) But then the two of them hook up and it decides to be a boring spy thriller instead. With a lot of mathematics and quantum theory.

Oh, some people complain about this book having Too Much Science, at least on Goodreads. I found the science content pretty light, especially for hard scifi. I feel like it should be accessible to those who have a decent understanding of quantum mechanics? I don't know why you'd want it accessible to you, but whevs.

Don't read this book. There are hard scifi authors out there, who don't fail terribly. You don't have to put up with shoddy writing and a plethora of isms just to get some good science.


  1. Oh, oh dear. Ohh dear.

    1. I didn't even cover all the wtf-ery in this review. There was just so much.