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Small Miracles by Edward M. Lerner

01/06/2010. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

Buy Small Miracles in the USA - or Buy Small Miracles in the UK

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pub: TOR/Forge. 350 page hardback. Price: $25.99 (US), $32.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-2094-0.

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One of the problems of writing a Science Fiction novel set in the present day is how quickly it can be dated these days. If it can be set in a situation where there is limited exposure to the rest of the world that can be avoided.

Edward Lerner's 'Small Miracles' is essentially a techno-thriller and although the use of nanobots is a little more into the future than we currently have, he also establishes that things haven't changed too much. Engineer Brent Cleary is road-testing to a nanotech enhanced body armour in the company of a police sergeant out in the field or rather the city when they are caught in an explosion. The suit protects him but his company, Garner Nanotech, decides to use nanobots to help restore him. What they fail to notice is because of the brain injury some of the nanobots get into his brain and enhance him as part of their repair work. His fellow scientists put his apparent rise in cognitive ability down to his near-death experience and fail to spot his move to developing more people like him, using members of the security staff. He doesn't anticipate the nanobots he injects them with as the next generation who see him as the inferior model. Into this mix is colleague Kim O'Donnell who is unravelling all the clues.

Lerner takes his story perspectives from Cleary and O'Donnell and it only gets a little weird viewpoint-wise as they meet each other occasionally. Why this book should be regarded as SF rather than techno-thriller is largely because you end up pondering on the solution. If anything, I'm surprised that Lerner didn't get the nano-armour to work against itself once O'Donnell could over-ride its settings but the solution given should still surprise you.

Not spectacular, but a solid SF novel and we don't see many of them these days.

GF Willmetts

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