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On Books


by Paul Di Filippo

Hellhounds of IPC, or,
Newitz for Old

To claim that Annalee Newitz’s debut novel, Autonomous (Tor Books, hardcover, $25.99, 304 pages, ISBN 978-0765392077), anoints her as the “new William Gibson” or the “new Bruce Sterling” would be facile and unfair, given that she offers a distinct voice and worldview and sensibility of her own. And yet there is some truth and justice to the hype, perhaps bolstered by an endorsement from Gibson himself on the book’s back cover. This novel has the punch and heft, sass and assaultive idea-machinery of Neuromancer or Schismatrix, and it could very well kickstart a raft of like-minded coevals. The book is biopunk—an offshoot of cyberpunk—and it deploys the full toolkit honed by the first-generation c-p writers, amped up for the twenty-first century.

Our book features a very specific year for its story—2144—which, in the subtextual terms of John Clute’s “Real Year Theorem,” equates pretty tightly with events and issues of 2017. (Flashbacks involving the maturation of one of the lead characters extend our range a bit, and there are offhand references to other historical events, such as a prior worldwide Collapse.) All the action takes place on Earth, although interplanetary venues such as a Mars colony lie just offstage. This world is dominated by genetic engineering, although not to an unrealistic extent. Other disciplines such as nanotech and robotics and materials science have also advanced proportionately and have their place in the technoscape. In other words, Newitz has not made the mistake of presenting an imbalanced future—“what if the advertising industry ruled everything?!?”—but one that has an organic, Charles-Stross-level of plausibility.

The dominant law-enforcement agency of this era, with supranational standing and remit, is the International Property Coalition. Basically, they are the patent police. Any violation of products or intellectual properties draws down their wrath. And they are pretty much licensed to kill as they please. Two buddies (and this novel is definitely in part a “buddy movie” in its subversive, revisionist way), a human named Eliasz and a fully sapient robot named Paladin, form one locus of narrative attention. Paladin is sapient, but indentured. This world features both human and robot slavery. Hence, “autonomy” is the fabulous, impossible goal of many. This treatment of the slavery topic, by the way, resonates with recent similar thoughts on the future of “discarded” people that Bruce Sterling delivered in his 2017 SXSW speech, listenable to online.

Opposed to Eliasz and Paladin, their quarry, is Jack Chen, a female bio-pirate. She gets half the chapters. In her super-submarine she travels the globe dispensing her reverse-engineered pharmaceuticals that Big Pharma are squatting on and exploiting. But it’s not all for profit: she also does much charity work. Unfortunately, Jack had been disbursing counterfeits of a licensed drug that, like thalidomide, has come to market with killer side effects. So now she looks like a terrorist. The IPC want to shut her down—lethally.

The cat-and-mouse game between these two factions constitutes the thrilling taut armature around which the whole novel spins at a dizzying rate. One dramatic escape and chase and deadly confrontation after another, through dozens of crisply realized venues. Like Neuromancer, this book employs noir or thriller bones on which to hang the flesh of its speculations. And so we get good, believable reasons to see everything from aerosol computing devices that form spontaneous viewscreens on command to a domed Las Vegas, the description of which echoes the famous opener of Gibson’s book:

*   *   *

The sky rained pixels and the market awnings expelled cool mist as fine as smoke. Under its climate-controlled bubble, Vegas never changed. Projectors painted the dome above them with fantastical weather. Today it was Jupiter’s diminishing mega-storm depicted in a lurid red, its sluggish whorl of clouds filling the Strip with a surreal, ruddy light.

*   *   *

At the same time, Newitz is intent on exploring issues of gender and sexuality, mainly through the love affair between Eliasz and Paladin. I won’t detail the complex interrelationships here, but they are fraught with real emotions and philosophical quandaries. Newitz also explores—much in the manner of C. Robert Cargill’s Sea of Rust—the essence of what it means to be a nonhuman constructed being.

As for being human, Newitz has a jaundiced yet not hopeless take on our species. Eliasz and Paladin are stone-cold killers for a cause, and Jack Chen is not much better. Yet their lives are salted with moments of tenderness.

This nearly perfect book sets its foot wrong only once, in the closing pages, when Newitz feels she has to explain things to us, the significance of events. However, despite the lecture, her novel’s final line is pure stefnal gold, and utterly characteristic of this sharply honed potential classic of the field.

*   *   *

Treasures of the Indies

Although I have not lately surveyed the current small press scene in any extensive manner in these pages, I am happy to report that the realm of all those publishers not included in the Big Five conglomerates continues to flourish. In fact, more outstanding work is being produced by these firms than was even the case a decade or two ago. Publishers such as Subterranean, Tachyon, Haffner, Non-Stop, Ramble House, Fedogan & Bremer, Hippocampus, WordFire, PS Publishing, Crystal Lake, Undertow, NewCon, and a dozen others bring out volumes that show up on awards ballots and in the shopping carts of many smart readers. Long may they flourish!

Here are four such books, almost randomly chosen from an abundance of riches, that illustrate the bounty to be found in this scene.

Shadows & Reflections (Wilder Publications, hardcover, $29.99, 234 pages, ISBN 978-1-5154-1738-5), edited by Trent Zelazny and Warren Lapine, is a heartfelt, classy production that does honor to its subject, Roger Zelazny (1937–1995). And just in time. Despite the splendid NESFA assemblage of all his short stories in six grand volumes, it seems to me that some two decades after his death, Zelazny is little-known to a new generation of readers. Although as the current volume attests, those who fell in love with the man and his work while he was alive retain deep affections.

A sterling introduction by George R.R. Martin and a tender afterword by daughter Shannon Zelazny bookend multifarious stories whose breadth illustrates that of Zelazny’s oeuvre. Most of the pieces, though, do share one thing in common: Zelazny’s patented first-person narrator’s voice: allusive, wry, melancholic, poetic, abrupt, alternately tender and harsh. The contributors here all pretty much get it down pat. The stories uniformly take place in some part of the Zelazny-verse, with two exceptions. Gerald Hausman gives us “Nights in the Gardens of Blue Harbor,” a contemporary spy-thriller whose source was a conversation with Zelazny. And the Master himself is represented by “There Shall Be No Moon!,” which first saw the light of day in one of the NESFA volumes. But, surprisingly, no one works the Amber vein.

It’s hard to pick favorites from the ranks of these deftly crafted items, but I will cop to enjoying immensely Steven Brust’s “Playing God,” which seamlessly merges his own novel The Incrementalists with Isle of the Dead, and Lawrence Watt-Evans’s “The Lady of Shadow Guard,” wherein one of the lovers taken by the protagonist of Jack of Shadows finds her life forever altered by that affair. Afterward, she summons the strength of character to remold her destiny.

It will be wonderful if this anthology serves to lure new readers to Zelazny’s work. But it’s guaranteed to please those who already know it.

*   *   *

Darrell Schweitzer sold his first tale in 1971, but was active in SF fandom even prior to that date. Thus, nearly fifty years of thinking about and enacting and observing fantastika lies inherent in his still-fertile brain. Some of that vast wisdom and experience, salted with humor and philosophy, is distilled into his latest collection of essays, The Threshold of Forever (Wildside, trade paper, $14.99, 220 pages, ISBN 978-1479425648). There are nearly three dozen pieces in this span of pages, demonstrating that brevity is Schweitzer’s preferred mode. Yet each essay is packed to bursting with great stuff.

Sometimes he does the kind of thing that the “Curiosities” column does in the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. He picks up a forgotten tome and digs into it with zest. He does this with James Hogg’s The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner; with Callirhoe, by Chariton of Aphrodisias; and with Rusty’s Spaceship, by Evelyn Lampman. These three disparate titles illustrate his omnivorous appetites. Other essays here are pretty standard reviews, yet full of historical context, such as his look at Clark Ashton Smith’s poems. At other times, Schweitzer will pick a favorite author, such as Robert Bloch, and try to unpack what makes the writer’s work still appealing. Sometimes he examines a particular trope, as in “Excavating Ourselves: A Short History of Archaeology-of-the-Present Books.” But perhaps his most entertaining and illuminating pieces are those where he takes a single issue of an old pulp zine and looks at all the stories therein, seeking to extract a “core sample” for the genre. It’s a kind of time-travel stunt that shines a light on both where we have come from and where we are heading.

In the revered footsteps of Sam Mosko-witz, yet less credulous, more exacting, more eclectic, and more discerning, Darrell Schweitzer continues to lavish on fantastika his warm-hearted perceptions, insights, and occasional admonitory slaps.

*   *   *

I would be inclined to say that Rhys Hughes is an utterly unique fellow, except that there are at least half a dozen other stellar and utterly unique writers whom his work brings to mind. Franz Kafka, Zoran Zivkovic, R.A. Lafferty, Jorge Luis Borges, Robert Aickman, Darren Speegle, Karin Tidbeck, Haruki Murakami. Let’s call them a Kohort of Kozmic Kooks. Their fictions are at once pellucid yet enigmatic, grounded yet ethereal, hard-edged yet idealistic, quotidian yet surreal.

Hughes is embarked on a madman’s quest to write a round one thousand short stories, and is closing in on number nine hundred so far. The selections in Salty Kiss Island: Fantastika Romantique (Immanion Press, trade paper, $15.50, 280 pages, ISBN 978-1907737770), hail from the years 2001 through 2015, and are united by being real-unreal love stories of varying sorts.

Hughes has a flair for engaging the reader with arresting first sentences that are seductive without necessarily being outlandish. “When her husband vanished, Marcia decided to buy a new pet.” (“All for Nothing.”) “If every photon is identical, with the same mass, electrical charge, and spin, why are the photons emitted by beautiful women so much more pleasing to the eye than any other?” (“The Sublime Voyage of Ariana Aragão.”) From these intriguing beginnings, his stories spiral outward like drunken voyagers who end up landing in either Cockaigne or Cleveland. Among the nearly two dozen tales here, you will find the account of a female constellation come to life (“Starlight Girl”); a mountaineering expedition in a pantry (“Left on the Shelf”); and the courtship of the beautiful Eva Marcela Soler—“Before the authorities made it illegal, men traveled from all over Argentina to serenade her.”—by a humble minstrel (“Don Entrerrosca”). In all of them, Hughes’s love of delirious language shines through, along with some keen perceptions that render this volume more than mere entertainment: “There is no passion in unconditional love and therefore no real sacrifice. Unconditional love has no taste. Conditional love alone is ripe.”

*   *   *

The title of David Memmott’s new novel, Canned Tuna (Redbat Books, trade paper, $16.00, 292 pages, ISBN 978-0-9971549-8-6), reminds me of the title of the 1964 novel by Charles Simmons, Powdered Eggs. I think this comparison is fitting, and maybe even indicative of a deliberate move on the part of Memmott, since his book is also set in the 1960s. But despite pages of gorgeous mimetic writing that evoke that era with grace and precision, overcoming simple nostalgia, Memmott’s book is a fullblown fantasy, a weird road trip through a cosmically shattered landscape that summons up comparisons to Bruce McAllister’s classic Dream Baby.

Two men, their ongoing lives offered in alternating chapters, pivot around each other in inexplicable orbits, until a bravura climax resolves their relationship, yet not without some tantalizing enigmas left over. Nico exists in 1969. A veteran wounded in Vietnam, he is back in his hometown of Boise trying to figure out how to live. He gets ensnared in the doings of a revolutionary group dubbed the P.A.S.T. Meanwhile, Milo exists in 1963, a young man working in a tuna-canning factory and focused mostly on trying to score some sex with his girlfriend Monica. Both men are subject to fantastical hallucinations and eruptions of alternate realities. But it is Milo’s world that comes apart most dramatically, precipitating a final merger of identities.

Memmott—a rare figure in our field, both a publisher (Wordcraft of Oregon) and an accomplished novelist and poet—manages to create an alluring personal voice for this novel that blends the vibes of Thomas Pynchon, Philip K. Dick, and Ken Babbs, whose Vietnam novel Who Shot the Water Buffalo? should stand shoulder to shoulder with Canned Tuna. Memmott has given us a book that adds a trippy spin to Faulkner’s famed observation about the undead past and its heavy hand.

*   *   *

Out of the Silo

Late in 2015 it was announced that John Joseph Adams, noted editor of Lightspeed magazine and many fine anthologies, would be curating a new line of books for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. As I write, nearly two years later, ten or so titles have emerged, including several reprints, with exciting news of future original ones in the pipeline. It’s been a long haul, but the new venture seems to be picking up speed. If the collection from Hugh Howey, Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories (John Joseph Adams/Mariner Books, trade paper, $15.99, 352 pages, ISBN 978-1328767523), is a fair representative of the line, then much goodness lies in store.

This generous feast of stories shows Howey working at lengths and in territories that his fame had previously shadowed. His best-selling books in the Silo universe have so dominated his public profile that his short fiction, appearing in various anthologies, zines, and online venues over recent years, has been pretty much invisible—at least to me, who knows him only from reading his novel Wool, when I was a judge for the Campbell Award. So this assortment of goodies provides a valuable fix on his wider talents.

The stories are grouped under seven headings, so perhaps looking at one tale from each division would help categorize the collection.

“Aliens and Alien Worlds” gives us “The Walk Up Nameless Ridge,” in which our hero must conquer an incredible exoplanet peak, but at some cost to his principles. Howey’s writing evokes both Roger Zelazny and Keith Laumer here—ancestors that most of the other vigorous and propulsive tales also suggest. The pieces under the rubric “Artificial Intelligence” are all among the strongest, but I particularly enjoyed the one that contributes its title to the book. Conveying believably in first-person the composite mentality that governs a flock of space-elevator-building machines was no easy authorial task! Next up, under “Silo Stories,” are three pendants to that franchise. The prequel “In the Air” offers a chilling slice of the initiatory apocalypse.

Almost a prose poem, and quite different from the technocentric offerings, “The Black Beast” nicely illustrates Howey’s flair for “Fantasy” stories. The emotionally charged “Mouth Breathers,” with its juvenile POV—Cort, an Earth boy on Mars—might have come from one of Heinlein’s YA books, and slots nicely into “Algorithms of Love and Hate.” My book-wide favorite tale, under the header “Virtual Worlds,” is “Select Character,” in which a videogame newbie, a young mother and housewife, Donna213, confounds all expectations—those of her husband and the world. Finally, “Peace in Amber,” part of “Lost and Found,” spins a poignant tale off of Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five. Wisely, Howey does not seek to duplicate Vonnegut’s style, but nonetheless manages to capture the older man’s spirit.

This entertaining volume, especially considering its insightful and frank “Afterwords” to the pieces, shows us a writer who, in some earlier era, would have been a mainstay at Astounding or Galaxy magazine, a craftsman with a marrow-deep understanding of the genre and a wellspring of important things to say.

*   *   *

There Were Two Pirates

Space pirates have been a trope in SF since at least the days of Doc Smith, and on through Jack Williamson and Edmond Hamilton. And they continue to be reconceived and repurposed at regular intervals. One particularly vivid update by Kelly Freas is to be seen on the cover of Astounding for February 1959: a space buccaneer with a slide rule clenched between his teeth, in lieu of a dagger.

Likewise, the notion of a fully settled Solar System, one where all the planets and satellites have their human inhabitants, often feuding, is a perennial conceit. This trope too, once seen in the “Old Mars/Old Venus” Planet Stories-type tales, gets regularly reinvigorated, in such franchises as the Expanse series, or in novels like Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312.

If you combine space pirates with a colonized Solar neighborhood, you’ll pretty much have the foundations of R.E. Stearns’s Barbary Station (Saga Press, trade paper, $16.99, 448 pages, ISBN 978-1481476874). This debut novel is generally a stimulating thrill ride. But I’d nonetheless argue it’s a bit too long for what it does, and that the deliberate claustrophobia of its limited setting limits its narrative-ideational range and its possible accomplishments.

We start with our two heroines, Adda and Iridian, awaking from stasis on a colony ship in untimely fashion. (There’s a third throwaway conspirator involved, but he’s soon out of the picture.) Lovers together, Adda is a software engineer, Iridian a mechanical engineer, and they have decided to become pirates as the only way to circumvent a limited future. So they hijack their ship successfully and bring it to Barbary Station, a pirate outpost where Adda’s conspiring brother Pel awaits. But upon their arrival, they discover that the worshipful newsfeeds and fan sites (the novel is hip to future social media likelihoods) have misrepresented the situation there. The pirates, led by Captain Sloane, as well as a horde of refugees from recent interplanetary rebellions, are all at the mercy of the Station’s AI, AegiSKADA, who regards the intruders as hostiles subject to lethal disposal.

The rest of the novel, staged totally on the Station, consists of the attempts by Adda to hack the AI and gain control, while Iridian and the others battle deadly drones, atmosphere loss, microbial weapons, internecine quarrels, domestic upsets, and a host of other calamities. At the end, not to spoil very much, Adda succeeds.

Now, Stearns can write action scenes like a master. She has IT concepts and space station gadgetry and physics down pat. Barbary Station itself is sensually ripe and tangible. Her dialogue is lively and effective (though trendy linguistic constructions from 2017 permeate: will anyone a century from now still be saying “What the actual fuck?”). And her characters are solid. But basically, what we have here is a four hundred page hacking riff—an errand that Case of Neuromancer would have fobbed off in a page or three—interspersed with semi-videogame threats and obstacles, taking place in an extremely limited venue. While each chapter goes down smooth, their cumulative invariant parameters begin to wear on the reader.

Stearns’s Kathy-Ackerish protagonists (Pussy, King of the Pirates is always a lodestone) deserve a wider field of action if they really want to steal our hearts.

*   *   *

The Odd Odyssey of Lee Cuddy

It seems to me that there is still much utility left in the literary term “slipstream,” coined by Bruce Sterling nearly thirty years ago to describe fiction that straddles genres—or, more transgressively, slips back and forth at will like a smuggler across fortified genre borders! Such books convey frissons and effects not obtainable from any simon-pure work, whether it be pure SF or pure mystery or pure naturalism. Readers looking for the handy list contained in “A Working Canon of Slipstream Writing” will find that document ready to download at the relevant Wikipedia page concerning Slipstream itself. Unfortunately—or maybe fortunately—there is no checklist of qualifying traits for slipstream, no formula to create it. One just has to develop a sixth sense for it.

My personal sixth sense tells me that Augustus Rose’s debut novel, The Readymade Thief (Viking, hardcover, $26.00, 384 pages, ISBN 978-0735221833), is dynamite slipstream and the start of a long, fruitful career.

The novel features a contemporary setting and a teenaged protagonist. Rose shows admirable nimbleness and insight when depicting the gritty hard-edged contours of Philadelphia; the often deracinated lifestyles of many average citizens and members of the lost underclass; and the workings of his adolescent heroine.

Lee Cuddy is a smart, pretty, good-natured high-school kid, but without direction or motivation. Her mom ignores her, and her mom’s new live-in boyfriend Steve is a jerk—not menacing or abusive, just clueless. So Lee takes up shoplifting as a hobby. She proves to be an adept—hence the book’s title—but she makes the mistake of stealing something too valuable for its absence to be ignored—although she does not recognize this at the time. It’s an original work of art by Marcel Duchamp, and it ties into a secret organization called the Société Anonyme. The ringleaders model themselves on the alien characters from Duchamp’s famous construction The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, and they seem at first somewhat harmless, existing mainly to throw drug-filled raves.

But as Lee soon discovers, the society is intent on using Duchamp’s artworks to uncover their embedded secrets relating to mysteries of quantum physics that will unlock vast powers for the discoverers. And since Lee has an important piece of the puzzle, she becomes an object of the SA’s fixations and tactics, which extend to murder and brain-wiping.

Lee’s illegal activities—sort of—send her to a juvenile dentention center before the SA can really come after her. But even there, she feels their presence. She escapes, and so begins a dangerous, tawdry, desperate hegira among Philly’s down-and-outers: squatters, urban explorers, drug dealers, fellow runaways, hackers. Chief among these figures is Tomi, the affectionate hacker who becomes her lover and main ally. But even with his help, her existence becomes one narrow escape after another, extending across a year’s duration, until finally she is forced to confront the hierarchy of the SA face to face, at which point she learns of her fated role in their schemes.

Rose fills this long yet not tedious game of cat-and-mouse with great melodramatic and suspenseful set-pieces, and also with a host of eccentric losers, slackers, and wastrels, who, in their outlaw existence, often exhibit a nobility of purpose and character that straights like Lee’s mother and her boyfriend Steve lack. He spares Lee no excruciation, but her treatment at the author’s hands never feels contrived or sadistic. She is undergoing the trials she must face if she is ever to burn off her fears and foibles and emerge as a mature being.

As for the conspiracy riffs, Rose plays his Umberto Eco cards for maximum value. He keeps us guessing as to the exact nature of the conspiracy, its members and goals, right up until the end, when Lee confronts the man who started it all, known as the Priest. Even then, there are still last-minute surprises and reversals. It’s all very hallucinatory yet believable, a really nice update and clever embellishment of what has come to be, in lesser Dan Brown hands, mere arbitrary noodling with history. Despite a general lack of any extra-natural phenomena, the book feels utterly fantastical.

If grunge were still a thing, I’d call this book the first slipstream grunge conspiracy novel. But what do labels matter when presented with such a fine book?

*   *   *

Fly Me to the Moon

Robert Heinlein may not have been the very first SF writer to imbue stories about living on other planets and moons in our familiar Solar System with a satisfying quotidian granularity, as if recounting the lives of our next-door neighbors, except with a certain level of estrangement. But he was certainly the guy who put his stamp and highwater-mark on such tales. Since his time, other writers have extended his methods and effects: folks like Allen M. Steele, Robert Sawyer, Kim Stanley Robinson, and, particularly, John Varley. Even a book as determinedly transgressive and postmodern as Delany’s Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia may be seen as part of that Heinlein continuum.

Now in the same tradition comes Andy Weir with his Artemis (Crown, hardcover, $27.00, 320 pages, ISBN 978-0553448122), the sophomore followup to the incredibly successful The Martian. Wisely, Weir has chosen to move laterally and expand his scope, rather than seek to blandly imitate his own triumph. So the book offers a different feeling from its older sibling, but still, at its core, boasts the same authorial sensibility and weltanschauung: indomitable human spirit tackling whatever the uncaring physical universe can throw at it. But this time around, with a larger cast of characters, there are more cultural and societal riffs as well.

What Artemis is, is a caper novel, but one that hinges intrinsically on physics and chemistry and engineering—both mechanical and social. So those same “competent-man” motifs found in The Martian carry over, but along with some great dialogue and sociocultural shenanigans and thriller-level suspense. Think of this book as part Donald Westlake, part Neal Stephenson (in his REAMDE mode); or perhaps a blend of the classic heist film Rififi with The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress.

Our scene is the lunar city of Artemis, a collection of five linked bubbles, some hundred years from now. The place is flourishing as a corporate enclave, not a polity, but it has the charms and freedoms of classical louche entrepôts. And our heroine, our narrator, one Jazz Bashara, twenty-six years old and an irresponsible genius, happens to be the kind of semi-respectable outlaw that all such unconventional milieus breed or demand. Ostensibly a mere lowly courier, in reality she controls all the contraband that flows from Earth to the Moon. But the job isn’t making her rich, and so, needing money, she takes the plunge into a bigger caper when the job is offered to her. A local millionaire wants to hire her for an act of industrial sabotage. Jazz agrees, but lacks the full info to help her realize that she is messing with Brazilian organized crime and that her actions will set off a wave of counterattacks that include assassins and a potential takeover of Artemis by the mafia. When she realizes that, Jazz has no choice but to save her beloved city by nearly destroying it.

Weir has succeeded admirably on any number of levels. In Jazz he has created a fast-talking, lovable wiseass who is demonstrably brilliant yet still a totally human and fallible person. The supporting cast is equally well delineated.

On a second level, Weir has contrived a series of nigh-impossible actions that Jazz has to perform—vide The Martian once more—to which we cannot see the solutions until Weir presents them in crystalline detail. And each sequence is triggered inevitably from its predecessor, as Jazz barrels deeper into the mire, making for a very logical and inevitable chain of events.

Thirdly, Weir absolutely convinces us that his model of how a lunar city would function is the most likely and sensible one. This venue is tactile and plausible and just plain right. No wonder Jazz loves the place so much. There are only a couple of tiny technological holes I see, none relating to the main points of the place. One is: no powered exoskeleton for a disabled person? We almost have those now. Second, no intelligent self-driving app for Jazz’s scooter, especially in a highly controlled environment like Artemis? Again, such a thing is almost here today. But these minuscule quibbles are just specks of dust on the perfectly machined surface of Weir’s creation.

Like The Martian, this novel is both old-school and ultramodern. And like its sib, it delivers any number of emotional and ideational payoffs. John Campbell always valorized engineering fiction, and Weir might be the ultimate fulfillment of Campbell’s visions.

Copyright © 2018 Paul Di Filippo

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