1/09/2011. Contributed by Phil Jones
pub: TOR/Forge. 317 page hardback. Price: $24.95 (US), $27.95 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-1749-0.
check out website: www.tor-forge.com
The Earth is to say the least is a bit overcrowded, 15 billion individuals are not to be sniffed at and to top it all clones are now seemingly starting to suffer from a new problem, ‘clone fatigue’. In a world of nanotechnology, where dust can survey your every act and corporate wrangling and greed are threatening to unravel and stall space colonisation. Altogether it’s not looking too good.
Ellen Starke is only half the woman she used to be. To be more precise only her head was retrieved from a horrific accident, a star-yacht crashed and Eleanor, her mother, was supposedly killed. Her head now grafted onto a new clone body. The only problem being is the clone body is only 16 months old. This is proving tricky in that she still has her mother’s financial empire to maintain.
Fred, a ‘Russ’ clone, has sparked a worrying concern that there is a problem with clones deviating from the ‘bred in’ behaviour. We join them at the start of the book with Fred in the middle of the throes of a court case. His relationship with his wife Mary also deteriorates throughout. Mary is one of the Evangeline sisters who have found new wealth and fortune in holographic actresses who act in a similar vain to the personalities of the sisters.
Starke Industries are trying to maintain control of the huge generational O-ships which are which are full of frozen would-be colonists. Ellen stuck onto a child’s body insists that her mother is alive. People around her think this is just a side effect of her condition or that she is just a bit mad. Her mother’s consciousness still exists though and still exerts some influence over the family corporation. She also has influence over Bishop Merrill Meewee, who invented the Garden Earth Project (GEP). The O-ships are the main thrust of GEP but there are hidden forces who want to turn the project into huge Earth orbiting space condos for the rich and in turn make them huge profits.
n from ‘Counting Heads’ which I feel would be a good idea to read because if like me, you’re new to this series, you may struggle initially to grasp everything that is going on. This is a richly textured and detailed world with huge struggles for humanity and corporate subterfuge. It presents a complex view on issues of clones, nanotechnology and pressures on the planet.
There are some surreal elements and an interesting discussion on some really heavy Science Fiction topics. This is not an easy read at times but never resorts to dumping information directly on the reader. It’s just richly detailed and layered without being overly descriptive. The main story thread focuses on Fred and Mary as they struggle to keep going with a multitude of outside and inside pressures.
Against this is Merrill Meewee’s desire to sort out the third world problems and over-crowding of the earth. His solution in GEP and those who seek to subvert this for profit. There is a lot more going on other than these two main threads with a host of sub-plots and fine detail. There is so much crammed into this story box that sometimes it overflows and the main detail and plots get a bit lost in the tidal flow that is thrown at the reader.
It’s an amazing book, just for the amazing world that is created. Not easy to digest sometimes but a worthy and rewarding read. It won't be for everyone but if you want a modern Science Fiction book with some old deep core ideas nestled in their then take a look.
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Stephen Hunt's novels - USA