In Old Earth's clandestine world of ambassador-spies, Michelangelo Kusanagi-Jones and Vincent Katherinessen were once a starring team. But ever since a disastrous mission, they have been living separate lives in a universe dominated by a ruthless Coalition--one that is about to reunite them.
The pair are dispatched to New Amazonia as diplomatic agents Allegedly, they are to return priceless art. Covertly, they seek to tap its energy supply. But in reality, one has his mind set on treason. And among the extraordinary women of New Amazonia, in a season of festival, betrayal, and disguise, he will find a new ally--and a force beyond any that humans have known... .
- Philip K. Dick Award
In this enjoyable, thought-provoking science fiction adventure, interspace ambassadors Vincent Katherinessen and Michelangelo Kusanagi-Jones have been sent by the Old Earth Colonial Coalition to the renegade planet of New Amazonia, a planet where women rule and men are kept as worker bees and house breeders. Because Old Earth treats its women as subservient, they have no female ambassadors, but Angelo and Vincent are gay or "gentle" and though they are shunned by the dictatorial government they serve, they're the only negotiators acceptable to the Amazonian rulers. The two men arrive ostensibly to return stolen art, a show of goodwill that will hopefully reopen long-stalled diplomacy between the two governments. In truth, they have been sent in an effort to secure, by any means necessary, the secret to the mysterious power source that runs Amazonia. Playing the deceitful powers against each other, however, Angelo and Vincent are really working toward an agenda of their own, one that will decide the fate of humanity itself. Like the best of speculative fiction, Bear has created a fascinating and complete universe that blends high-tech gadgetry with Old World adventure and political collusion. (Dec.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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1 . Very good
Posted February 24, 2010 by MaryBeth , Milwaukee WIElizabeth Bear takes on one of the 7 classic sci fi plots and turns it on its head. The heros are 2 lovers on a clandestine mission to a world run by women and where men are treated as chattel for the good of all. The heroes would be killed by their own government if they were found out to be gay. Both are on a mission to stop the Governors from annexing New Amazonia. Each thinks the other is loyal to the Governors, not realizing that they both want to defeat the Governors and working for different underground groups. Everyone is trying to escape the Governors, a computer program released by radical tree huggers, and the Colonial Cabinet, rapacious humans that use the Governors program for their own ends. A little dash of dis-embodied alien intelligence is thrown in as the deus ex machina.
Ms. Bear takes a whack at everyone's pet philosophy. A really good book.
November 27, 2006
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Excerpt from Carnival by Elizabeth Bear
Michelangelo Osiris Leary Kusanagi-Jones had been drinking since fourteen hundred. He didn't plan on stopping soon.
He occupied a bubbleport on the current observation deck of Kaiwo Maru, where he had been since he started drinking, watching a yellow main-sequence star grow. The sun had the look of a dancer swirling in veils, a Van Gogh starscape. Eons before, it had blundered into a cloud of interstellar gas and was still devouring the remains. Persistent tatters glowed orange and blue against a backdrop of stars, a vast, doomed display of color and light. Kusanagi-Jones could glimpse part of the clean-swept elliptical path that marked the orbit of New Amazonia: a darker streak like a worm tunnel in a leaf.
Breathtaking. Ridiculously named. And his destination. Or rather, their destination. Which was why he was drinking, and why he didn't intend to stop.
As if the destination-and the mission-weren't bad enough, there was the little issue of Vincent to contend with. Vincent Katherinessen, the Old Earth Colonial Coalition Cabinet's velvet-gloved iron hand, far too field-effective to be categorized as a mere diplomatic envoy no matter how his passport was coded. Vincent, whom Kusanagi-Jones had managed to avoid for the duration of the voyage by first taking to cryo-damn the nightmares-and then restricting himself to the cramped comforts of his quarters . . . and whom he could avoid no longer.
Vincent was brilliant, unconventional, almost protean in his thinking. Unless something remarkable had changed, he wore spiky, kinky, sandy-auburn braids a shade darker than his freckled skin and a shade paler than his light-catching eyes. He was tall, sarcastic, slender, bird-handed, generous with smiles as breathtaking as the nebula outside the bubbleport.
And he was the man Michelangelo Kusanagi-Jones had loved for forty years, although he had not seen him in seventeen-since the last time he had betrayed him.
Not that anybody was counting.
Kusanagi-Jones had anticipated their date by hours, until the gray and white lounge with its gray and white furniture retreated from his awareness like a painted backdrop. If Kusanagi-Jones captained a starship, he'd license it in reds and golds, vivid prints, anything to combat the black boredom of space.
Another man might have snorted and shaken his head, but Kusanagi-Jones didn't quite permit himself a smile of self-knowledge. He was trying to distract himself, because the liquor wasn't helping anymore. And in addition to his other qualities, Vincent was also almost pathologically punctual. He should be along any tick-and, in fact, a shadow now moved across Kusanagi-Jones's fish-eye sensor, accompanied by the rasp of shoes on carpet. "Michelangelo."