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.
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 →