Driven across the galaxy by their own technology gone awry, humans have been forced to seek refuge on scattered moons and asteroid belts to survive. Now that same technology -- a great ravenous bloom of biomatter -- threatens to consume even these distant harbors of existence. Then comes an even more frightening realization. The bloom has begun to code gene sequences, circumventing the defenses set up against it and changing matter for its own dire purpose. Is this the dawn of a new natural law that will lead to the end of life as we know it? To find answers, a small group ventures back into the heart of the bloom, a place from which no one has ever returned. Yet it is in these remote conditions, against a virtually omnipotent foe, that we discover how human nature plays the greatest role in humanity's future.
Although set in the 22nd century, this transcendent tale of close encounters with awesome life forms echoes current anxieties over the godlike manipulations of bioengineering. Following the total engulfment of Earth and the planets of the inner solar system by mycora, a manmade species of self-replicating fungus that has developed a ravenous appetite for inorganic matter, the remnants of the human race have fled to the moons of Jupiter. Loosely organized as the Immunity, they keep a watchful eye on the encroaching Mycosystem and stamp out the horrific "blooms" by which the technogenic spores literally eat their way into a territory. The Immunity's goal is to relocate to a cleaner planetary system, but not without first investigating transmissions that improbably suggest human life may still exist on Earth. This provokes acts of sabotage by the Temples of Transcendent Evolution, who revere the Mycosystem as "some sort of hyperintelligence, maybe a direct link to God himself," and fear that the mission's covert objective is "deicide." McCarthy (Murder in the Solid State) relates the challenging clash of technology and theory that follows through the experiences of John Strasheim, a freelance journalist onboard the Earth-bound starship Louis Pasteur. The writing is vivid�particularly in sequences that describe the chaos of bloom alerts�but it's also challenging: technojargon casually spoken by the Pasteur-nauts can be so stultifying that it gives the events and people described the dispassionate feel of a virtual reality simulation. Readers who can plug into the prose and navigate its dense circuity, however, will find themselves rewarded with a wallop of a finale that satisfies high expectations for high-concept SF. Agent, Shawna McCarthy. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
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August 03, 1999
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