SF Reviews background image SF Reviews logo image
Contact SF Reviews   |   Get the Newsletter 

Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


Copyright 1997 by Greg Bear

In Association with Amazon.com In Association with Amazon.co.uk
SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Very good (4/5)

I first read this in February 1999 and most recently on the 26th March 2006

It's just fifty years from now and the world is a different place. Psychiatry has embraced the realm of nanotechnology. Minds are reengineered and microscopic monitors in the patients bodies ensure their balanced operation. Almost everyone is "therapied" and carries these monitors. A small remainder are the "naturals" who believe that their uncorrected intellects give them an edge over the therapied.

  • Martin Burke is making a successful new life as a mental therapist. His old life went horribly wrong when he was caught up in the criminal world of Emmanuel Goldsmith (see the prequel "Queen of Angels"). Unfortunately his new hard-won reputation may be worth nothing when the police come calling.
  • Jack Giffey is a criminal. He's gathered a team of the most dangerous men and armed them with devastating, smart weaponry. They'll need the weapons for he's bent on robbing the new Omphalos building, the fortified, funereal repository for the frozen bodies and possessions of the super-rich.
  • Nathan Rashid is chief engineer at Mind Designs and is surrogate father to Jill, the latest and most powerful artificial intelligence to emerge from the company.
  • Jill is self-aware and very human for all her intelligence, indeed she collapsed in the AI equivalent of a nervous breakdown two years previously and has been carefully nurtured back to an exquisite balance. The balance however is dangerously upset when she discovers a unlicensed and possibly renegade AI.
  • Jonathan Bristow has made it into the upper echelons of corporate management, but now his mentor offers membership of a more powerful, but more secret and shadowy group. On the grounds that you can't say no if you want to progress, he accepts only to discover that this is no group he wants a part in, but it's too late to back out.
  • Alice Grale is a porn star. She's been in the hottest, most successful movies, but she's not so young and the work is less easy to find. She needs to take any job she can get. Her latest job isn't even in a movie, it's just an old fashioned sex-for-money call-out and she absolutely hates it. However bad it looks to her at the outset, it will be far worse by the end.
  • Mary Choy was an LAPD officer. Following her involvement in the Emmanual Goldsmith affair (again, see "Queen Of Angels"), she has transferred to Seattle Public Defense. Her investigation into an appalling sexual slavery case leads her to Alice Grale's client, and then to Alice, and finally to the horrifying conspiracy against humanity that will involve all of these characters
  • I'm writing this review after reading this book a third time and I have to say that I'm astonished. I'd thought it was a good book but nothing special but this time I realised that I'd completely misjudged it.

    This is a great book.

    Greg Bear makes brilliantly perceptive observations about just about everything In this book he packs so many exciting ideas but he keeps a tight and quite traditional plot. It reminds me of some of John Brunner's better novels. A number of reviewers have stated that the first two hundred or so pages are bit a difficult but I completely disagree - it was while I was reading them this time around that I realised what a classic SF treasure this novel is.

    Absolutely fab. This is now my favourite Greg Bear novel, narrowly topping "Eon".

    Loaded on the 1st May 2006.
Cover of Slant