Metareview: Metaplanetary by Tony Daniel
(Eos, $26.00, 464 pages, hardback; April 20, 2001; ISBN 0-06-105142-X.)
Rating: A/A+ -- best novel of the year? Wonderful hard-SF space-opera -- but it's part one of (at least) two.
Tony Daniel has been a 'new author to watch' for the past few years. Now he's come through with his first major novel, and it's a winner.
The setup: it's 3013 AD. Humanity has spread throughout the solar system. The Inner System is bound together -- literally -- by enormous, quasi-organic nanotech cables -- the Met -- which provide both transport and living space. The cableways end at the asteroids, and the Outer System is freer and more tolerant of human-level artificial intelligences. Beyond Pluto is the domain of the sentient cloudships, who dominate the Outer System economy, and who have made the first tentative interstellar settlements.
A dictator is emerging in the Inner System, and quickly rises to dominate this closely-bound polity. He is enslaving the 'free converts', the more-or-less pure-software AI's. A war is coming, over what it means to be human....
Here's Paul Di Filippo's review, the best I found online:
Actually, with Paul's warning, you'll be fine -- Metaplanetary ends at a logical place to pause, though it may be some time before Part 2, Superluminal, appears, dammit. Cliffhanger or no, this is the best book I've read this year, and perhaps since Vernor Vinge's epic A Deepness in the Sky. Folks, this is the Good Hard Stuff. Unless you're absolutely firm about reading the complete story at once -- get thee to the bookstore!
And let's hope that, once Daniel finishes Superluminal, he returns to the world of "A Dry, Quiet War" -- an amazing story, set in what could be the far future of Metaplanetary / Superluminal. Absolutely not to be missed.
Author Daniel provides some sweet background information at his websites:
CAUTION -- some **SPOILERS** in linked material (but none here)
For example, "the main cables come in at the [planetary] poles, where they are connected by a gigantic universal joint..." A better analog might be an oilfield Kelly bearing, which joins the rotating drill-rods to the (non-rotating) drilling-mud supply, pumped downhole to flush out the cuttings. For a Daniel bearing, you'd need a BIG ball-joint there, to accommodate Met-flex.
Where the rotational 'gravity' changes rapidly, "where the barrel edge meets the pith of the cable. Kids go up there to get whacked out, I'll bet." Cool beans, bro.
Fictitious essays, exposition of the Metaplanetary backstory, from the book. A classic and effective way to handle exposition. Includes a few minor spoilers.
**END of Spoilers**
Elsewhere in infinity plus:
Let us know what you think of infinity plus - e-mail us at:
support this site - buy books through these links:
top of page
[ home page | fiction | non-fiction & reviews archive | other stuff | A to Z ]
[ infinity plus bookshop | search infinity plus ]
© Peter D Tillman 11 August 2001