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It's a pity that when Linda Nagata was finally published in the UK the publishers chose to start with Vast, not only part of a (currently) 4 volume series, but also the direct sequel to Deception Well. This means that UK readers are unlikely to see her latest novel, Limit of Vision, an intriguing tale of biological experimentation gone awry.

This is a tale of the boundaries between science and politics, between love and duty, and between new life and old. In a near future Hawaii an experiment with symbiotic artificial lifeforms known as LOVs (as they exist at the limit of human vision) goes terribly wrong. Not only is the chief researcher dead, but as a result of communication with the LOVs in orbit a section of a space station with LOVs on board is plummeting to earth. One of the research scientists is still carrying symbiotic LOVs, and manages to escape the cordon flung around the illegal experiment. A struggling journalist in the Mekong Delta finds herself in the thick of things as the station fragment lands around here, and the escaped LOVs start to populate the rice fields. As a conflict between third world children and corporate interests escalates, the LOVs start to find their own way in the world...

Nagata is an excellent writer, and Limit of Vision is a pearl of modern hard SF. An irritating core of an idea has turned into a powerful story that entertains and educates, investigating complex issues and coming up with questions and answers. Through her words we get a picture of a possible next step in human evolution, and what it means for those involved and for those outside. Fear and hope battle for the future of society, in a world where we may not be as smart as our creations.

Well worth reading.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 17th, 2002 03:10 am (UTC)
Re: Run, Luke, Run!
(I know we've discussed this in person, but wotthehell archie wotthehell...)


Just say no.

To quote Marvin, "I've seen it, it's rubbish."

Vast: Incoherent, implausible, poorly written, poorly characterised, poorly plotted, loose and wandering, uninvolving, hard to follow and insufficiently interesting to make me want to.

I've read so many plaudits I leapt on the 1st copy I saw, at Octocon last year: a cheap 2nd hand import.

I doubt I will ever read her again. Took me a month of hard effort to finish it.

Just because it's hard to read doesn't mean it's deep.

Sep. 17th, 2002 04:44 am (UTC)
Re: Run, Luke, Run!
Hmm. I wouldn't say 'rubbish' but I did bog down and lose interest about half-way through. Partly this was because the writing felt a bit loose, but to a great extent I didn't really find myself caring about the characters. Perhaps this is an occupational hazard of writing about post-humans.

Also, having read Al Reynolds' take on a similar situation (Revelation Space) shortly beforehand didn't help.

Sep. 17th, 2002 05:19 am (UTC)
Re: Run, Luke, Run!
The biggest problem with the UK publication of Vast is that it's the second part of a two-volume novel, with most of the work getting to know and care about the characters in the first volume, Deception Well.

And Gollancz didn't publish it...
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )