by Michael Swanwick
The second time I tried to read this, and the first I succeeded. Quite engaging. The science background for the radiation mutations in the fashion they appear is beyond absurd, and at times weird enough to be jarring for the story, but the way the characters' corruption and resistance folds is engaging, and the final narrative structure is quite nice in scale. This is a case of science fiction where the story is stronger than the wider setting and delivers a better-than-it-sounds work. Swanwick shows off his ability to tie together weird extreme details to great effect, pushing in a potent novel that after about the thirtieth page fully captured my attention up through the end.
In particular the family narrative that develops, with all the mutation, vampire child and political compromise involves proves to be unexpectedly emotional. I told you it was better than a plot description makes it sound.
Worse than: The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks
Better than: Transition by Iain M. Banks