Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Some Remarks on In The Mouth of the Whale

It’s a stand-alone novel that’s set 1500 years after The Quiet War and Gardens of the Sun and picks up the story of one of the players in the old drama: Sri Hong-Owen, a gene wizard who is her own greatest experimental subject.

Sri wants to live forever.  After a treatment that went badly wrong left her confined to a vat, she created a strange family from her own flesh and set off for the star Fomalhaut, to found her own empire in its great planetary ring. But history has overtaken her, as history always overtakes people who live too long. Her starship was damaged; she died; those of her children who survived have rebooted her by recreating her childhood.

Meanwhile, a posthuman group, the Quick, has reached Fomalhaut ahead of Sri and founded a new civilisation which fell to another group, the fierce and largely unmodified True, who enslaved the Quick and set up their own empire.  And now, as Sri’s starship approaches Fomalhaut, the True are fighting interlopers from another interstellar colony for control of the gas giant Cthuga, whose core may be the home of a vast strange intellect.

What else? There’s an outcast librarian who, with the help of his Quick servant, fights demons in fragments of a vast data base. The disappearance of one of the scions of a powerful family. Thistledown cities and an archipelago of engineered worldlets. A big dumb object floating in atmosphere of a gas giant planet, probing for signs of life. War in the air. A vivid dream of childhood that begins to unravel. A secret hidden in the cityscapes of a virtual library. The termitarial mindset of a cult that’s lasted 1500 years. Visions of cul-de-sacs in human evolution. The utility of intelligence. The cost of longevity, and that perennial problem of what to do for the rest of your life after you die . . .

Coming soon, as they say.
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