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Ian J Miller was born 7th August 1942 to the son of a policeman sent to Hokitika (New Zealand) to fill vacancies due to the mass murderer Stanley Graham. Secondary education was at Ashburton High School, thence to University of Canterbury (BSc Hons1, PhD), followed by post-docs at Calgary, Southampton and Armidale. I returned to New Zealand to Chemistry Division, DSIR, to work first on lignin chemistry, then recycling, seaweed research, then hydrothermal wood liquefaction. In 1986 I left DSIR to set up Carina Chemical Laboratories Ltd, to carry out research to support the private half of a joint venture to make pyromellitates, the basis of high temperature resistant plastics. (When called to a TV program to discuss the danger of foam plastics in fires, I aimed a gas torch at the palm of my hand, protected only by a piece of foam plastic I had made shortly before. Fortunately, it worked, it glowed yellow hot, but held the heat for about half a minute.) This venture, and an associated seaweed processing venture collapsed during the late 1980s financial crisis, mostly for financial reasons. Current projects include the development of Nemidon gels (www.nemidon.co.nz/) and fuels and chemicals through the hydrothermal treatment of microalgae (www.aquaflowgroup.com/). I have written about 100 peer-reviewed scientific papers, about 35 other articles, and I was on the Editorial Board of Botanica Marina between about 1998-2008.
In my first year University, following an argument with some Arts students, I was challenged to write a fictional book. I did in spare time: Gemina. I subsequently self-published a revised version, only to find publicity was forbidden as a condition of getting my finance for the pyromellitates project. Since then, I have written a few more science in fiction thriller-type novels that don't fit nicely in any category. These form a "future history", and Puppeteer is the first of one entry point.
on Feb. 22, 2015 :
As the book starts we are already on the other side of a dystopian meltdown. The rebuild, worldwide will be painfully slow, but progress will be made. The story is set in one small area, the area that will be served by one new power station. Some of the wealthy, in their gated communities have come through a worldwide conflagration relatively unscathed, not so most of the population.
There is a lot of excitement, heaps of intrigue, and a very clever interplay of characters in the plot. Sometimes the detail was actually too clever for me, to mathematically complex, but I breezed on to find, as I suspected, that the maths of who did what to whom and when didn't particularly matter. The story is in the series of results from the complex interplay of competing and variously empowered players.
I don't hesitate in giving this book five stars, but the proof-reader needs eliminating and replacing before the next book, just as unceremoniously as are so many of Miller's characters that fail to keep pace with this developing new social, material and financial order. One more edit would be more than worthwhile, so I hope Miller organises just that.
Miller's writing style is robust, eloquent, and fashionable short of superfluous adjectives and adverbs. This Hemingwayesque style is popular, certainly, though less plot detail and more expansive description would have enriched the reading for me. I would have liked to have been given a few more colours from the peeling paint, and a deeper penetration of the souls driving the characters. I enjoy more ingredients than a plot demands. But as it is the word count is fairly long, as I said, we see a complex sum.
The author is an intellectual thinker, with many scientific and social views about where the future might go. Miller combines this with writing very engaging fiction that works on so many levels. I certainly enjoyed reading 'Troubles'. Miller does just exactly what all good speculative fiction writers do, entertains with aplomb whilst providing food for both frivolous and serious thought.
(reviewed the day of purchase)