Once or twice in a score of years, the realm of science fiction reveals a vision of tomorrow of epic and transforming scope. These are the dreams of the Asimovs, the Heinleins, the Bears, and the Brins. Tony Daniel brilliantly dreamed this future in his groundbreaking Metaplanetary, and now continues with Superluminal. It is a time when individuals take astounding forms and live astonishing lives. But it is also a future at war for humankind's very soul.
Civilization has extended itself far into the outer reaches of our solar system -- and in so doing has developed into something remarkable, diverse, and perhaps transcendent. But the inner system -- its worlds connected by a vast network of cables -- is supported by the repression and enslavement of humanity's progeny, nanotechnological artificial intelligences.
Now the war for human civilization shifts into high gear. A pogrom against the A.I. "free converts" moves toward a Final Solution, even as the elite super-beings, called LAPs, are co-opted into Napoleon-like Director Amés's all-encompassing, all-powerful personality. Superluminal flight is being secretly developed, and with it a weapon that promises utter victory for Amés.
But hope remains alive in the outer system with General Roger Sherman and his Federal Army. From the tattered remnants and fleeing refugees of a dozen moons and asteroids, these contentious, democratically minded warriors have been forged by the fire of battle into an effective and adaptable military force. Given time, the Federal Army stands a fighting chance to beat Amés. But the nanotech-driven war-machine of the Met is in full production, and time is the one commodity the forces of freedom lack.
It is total war for humanity in all its myriad shapes: war between the vast cloudships of the outer system and the deadly armada of the Met; between massive regiments of soldiers equipped with almost unimaginable firepower. Most of all, it is war within the hearts and minds of every human being. For this is the fight that will decide, once and for all, what form -- and which way of life -- humankind will take to the stars.
In Superluminal, Tony Daniel fulfills the promise of his critically acclaimed novel Metaplanetary. With gritty realism, a touch of wry humor, and -- most of all -- with an old-fashioned science fiction sense of wonder firmly in place, Daniel continues his saga of courage, sorrow, and glory brought on by total war for the soul of humanity itself.
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Tony Daniel is the author of the novels Earthling and Warpath, along with the pioneering and well-received Metaplanetary, to which Superluminal is a sequel. Daniel heads up the New York City theater troupe Automatic Vaudeville, which produces independent films. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter.From Publishers Weekly:
Daniel's much praised Metaplanetary (2001) presented an awesome vision of the future in which the Met (a system of super-strong cables like spider webs) connects the inner planets and people can communicate instantly across impossible distances due to the presence of "grist" (a form of quantum nanotechnology that permeates the solar system). In this ambitious sequel, war breaks out between the inner planets, ruled over by the increasingly despotic Chairman Amés, and the outer planets, led by the maverick Federal Army commander Roger Sherman. Meanwhile, a large cast of characters, some of them human, some complex computer-programs, but most some combination of the two, live out their lives. This is large-scale space opera with an enormous cast, spectacular battle scenes and 11 appendices to help readers keep things straight. The novel doesn't work quite as well as Metaplanetary, in part because the space warfare becomes a bit repetitious and in part because, as the middle book in what will be at least a trilogy, the tale comes to no real conclusion. Nor is Daniel's work as intellectually challenging as that of such writers as Ken MacLeod, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter. Still, there's much to like here, particularly for fans of Golden Age great E.E. "Doc" Smith.
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