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Biased and superficial Science Fiction reviews


Copyright 2001 by Tony Daniel

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SOJALS rating:     
one SOJALS point one SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point no SOJALS point    Mediocre (2/5)

I first read this on the 19th September 2002.

A few hundred years in a our future, with the development of pervasive nanotechnology and utilisation of quantum effects, the solar system is transformed. The air one breathes, the dust beneath one's feet, are filled with grist, nanotechnological dust, ready at a moment's notice to support the local embodiment of an artificial intelligence, or just to make into a glass of water.

Vast cables are looped between the planets, a la Brian Aldiss' Hothouse, although in this case the cables are super-strong nanotechnology, vibrant with the passage of real people and of "free convert" awarenesses that can only exist in the virtual world provided by the nanotechnological grist. People can remain in their physical bodies, can transfer to the virtual world, or can clone themselves.

And in this wondrous world, a dictator arises: Ames wants it all, wants everything subsumed to his will, and he wants war.

Against him are an untidy and disorganised array of the inhabitants of the outer planets; the "cloudships" of the outer system and a hotpotch of ordinary people whose lives have been uprooted by Ames' ambitions.

I started reading this twice before I was able to persevere long enough to begin to enjoy it, twice putting it aside to read something more simple and traditional. I simply couldn't face reading another book about humanity living virtual lives in computer worlds. As it happened, of course, when I finally got into the book, it's not much like that at all.

In fact it's pretty standard SF: space travel and colonisation of the planets, artificial intelligence and space war, evil dictators and ordinary people forced into revolution. But Daniel has created an unusual world for his SF story.

Loaded on the 31st October 2002.
Cover of Metaplanetary