There’s been lots of weird fiction on this blog lately and near future tales. But we’re back to pure science fiction this time with a space adventure from Linda Nagata.

Review: Edges: Inverted Frontier, Book 1, Linda Nagata, 2019. 

Cover by Sarah Anne Langton

A space quest to determine what happened to the human homeworlds, games of deception played against alien berserker ships in deep space, and a mysterious castaway who wants to hijack that quest for his own ends – this novel returns to the universe of Nagata’s Nanotech Succession and takes place shortly after Vast

Nagata says she crafted this to be a new entry point into the series, and she succeeded. I remembered little of the last two novels of the series, Deception Well and Vast and was able to pick up on the story quickly. 

The Inverted Frontier of the title refers to the center of humanity’s expansion into space, the core from which man expanded outward. That core, the Hallowed Vasties, seems to have undergone some great change, the Dyson swarms around its suns have been dismantled. Thus humanity, at least in its altered version, exists only on the fringe planet of Deception Well.

The story opens with a Chenzeme courser approaching that planet. It’s not a welcome event, but it is one that has been prepared for since humanity fought a war against the Chenzeme, a mysterious alien race extensively using biological modifications and nanotech in its spaceships.

Continue reading

The Bohr Maker

I’ve talked briefly about awards before. Dismissively.

They do have one use: they publicize writers trying to make a living now rather than, a la Edgar Allan Poe, becoming a posthumous legend. Linda Nagata effectively makes that point.

But I am not a writer. My desires are not congruent with writers’. I do not find awards useful. I will also note that, as per the Arthur C. Clarke Awards she discusses, there are a whole lot of titles on that list that are not science fiction — the genre Clarke wanted to recognize through the award. I would argue that is a criteria so loose as to be useless.

Still I like the Nagata work I’ve read, so this is going be a the start of a review series on her Nanotech Succession. (I have not read her Red trilogy.)

The review is for the original edition, but the link is to the new Kindle edition which, I understand, has been slightly revised.

A retro review from August 18, 2012 …

Review: The Bohr Maker, Linda Nagata, 1995.Bohr Maker

It’s not like I missed the debut of novelist Linda Nagata. I bought the original paperback of this edition when it came out, but it sat on my shelf unread until I read her recent young adult novel Skye Object 3270A set much further in the universe of this novel.

I was not disappointed by this novel nor did I find it dated.

My inner bureaucrat finds a fascination with stories built around the idea of controlling – but not totally suppressing – a powerful and disruptive technology. Here it’s nanotechnology, dubbed “makers” in this novel.

A Commonwealth, to which most of the humans of Earth and orbital habitats in the solar system belong, mandates that nanotechnology only be used in limited ways. Specifically, radical alterations to the human genome, beyond curing degenerative disorders – which include aging – and cosmetic changes to skin and hair color, are not allowed. Embodying a major exception to this is one of the novel’s central characters: Nikko Jiang-Tibayan. With his ceramic skin and ability to exist in the vacuum of space, Nikko is actually a science project authorized by the Commonwealth Police, a science project with a legally mandated end coming soon. Nikko begs his old lover, Kirstin Adair, who just happens to be the Chief of Commonwealth Police, for an extension of his life. Adair is one of the best things about the novel. She’s an unpleasant and fanatical adherent to the modern superstition of nature worship, a devoted protector of the Mother Goddess Gaia. Still, she’s not entirely unsympathetic. The makers do promise tremendous upheaval. That was realized by another old lover of hers, Leander Bohr, when he developed – but refused to release to other people – the most sophisticated and illegal maker of all, the titular Bohr Maker.

To extend his life, Nikko tries to get the sequestered Bohr Maker and sets in motion a series of events that will threaten his younger brother; possibly estrange him even more from his father Fox who designed him and the sophisticated orbital habitat they live in, a man whose experiments in maker development push the very limits of legality; entangle two ex-prostitutes, Phousita – a voluptuous and perfectly proportioned four-foot-tall woman – and Arif – possessor of a glow-in-the-dark clown face of long nose and bulging cheeks, in a cascade series of events that threaten the political and social order of the Commonwealth. Continue reading


Another retro review, this time from October 2, 2000.

It’s certainly the most realistic depiction of nanotechnology I’ve seen in science fiction, but then, as McCarthy’s biography on the old Sci Fiction site used to say, “Yes, he is a rocket scientist.”

Review: Bloom, Wil McCarthy, 1998.

Sometime in the mid-twenty-first century, a nanotechnology accident of unknown origin devours Earth and then the moon. The end result, the Mycosystem, is a growing rot feeding on any organic and inorganic material it encounters. Like its fungal namesake, it spreads by spores.Bloom

Riding on the solar wind, these spores cause “blooms” when they enter the human habitats inside Ganymede, Callisto and assorted asteroids. For twenty years, man has survived by developing elaborate “immune systems” to fight the blooms. However, recent blooms show an alarming sophistication and ability to skirt these countermeasures. Armored against “technogenic life”, the spaceship Louis Pasteur departs for the depths of the Mycosystem, Earth and Mars. Its mission is to determine whether the Mycosystem has developed the ability to inhabit new niches in the Solar System. Continue reading