Genesis [NOOK Book]

Overview


Artificial intelligence has been developed to a point where a human personality can be uploaded into a computer, achieving a sort of hybrid immortality. Astronaut Christian Brannock welcomes this technology, technology that will make it possible for him to achieve his dream of exploring the stars.

A billion years later, Brannock returns to earth to check on some strange anomalies. While there he meets Laurinda Ashcroft, another hybrid ...
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Genesis

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Overview


Artificial intelligence has been developed to a point where a human personality can be uploaded into a computer, achieving a sort of hybrid immortality. Astronaut Christian Brannock welcomes this technology, technology that will make it possible for him to achieve his dream of exploring the stars.

A billion years later, Brannock returns to earth to check on some strange anomalies. While there he meets Laurinda Ashcroft, another hybrid upload, with whom he joins forces in investigating Gaia, the supermind dominating the planet. They must learn the truth of her shocking and terrifying secret plans for earth.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.


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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Genesis is the winner of the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for best Science Fiction novel of the year. Poul Anderson died on July 31st, 2001.
Science Fiction Weekly
Poul Anderson's most recent novel delivers a story that's as reliable as a favorite pair of sneakers. It includes a grand quest for the stars, an unceasing search for intelligent life and, of course, a love story that defies space and time.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With this brilliantly conceived novel, Grand Master Anderson flings his long-time audience beyond his Starfarers and Boat of a Million Years, into a far-future extrapolation of human destiny that sings praises to the power of human love. After a long career of solar-system exploration, astronaut Christian Brannock achieves man-machine immortality by allowing his personality to be uploaded into an artificial intelligence that can probe the galaxy. Two centuries later, on the brink of Earth's next Ice Age, Laurinda Ashcroft, a human interface to Terra Central, similarly chooses to merge with the supercomputer that millions of years later becomes an element of Gaia, the Earth's artificial intelligence, itself a rebellious node of the galactic brain. As Earth's sun begins to fail, the node Wayfarer, in which Brannock's consciousness resides, must determine if humanity's mother world should be saved, though Gaia seems strangely determined to let it perish. When Wayfarer sends Christian to investigate strange hints about a secret Gaia may be hiding, Christian and Laurinda, ghostly memories of the man who went to the stars and the woman who remained on Earth, take virtual human shape, and the tender love that they find together as they probe Gaia's various alternative realities of human civilization reenacts the union of sky and earth that anchors all human mythologies. By humanizing the inhuman, Anderson comes breathtakingly close to speaking the unspeakable, the meaning of human existence. Deftly moving from one utterly convincing vignette of future human society to another, blending them into one profoundly moving fictional entity with reverence for the undying human thirst for knowledge and the pain that must accompany human achievement, Anderson's narrative soars, as unfettered as an exalting dream. (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
VOYA
Since boyhood, Christian Brannock has longed to travel to the stars; little does he imagine his longing will be realized. Brannock works as one with a robot in a virtual reality link. As technology advances and machines evolve to the point where they can merge with humans, Brannock's informational matrix and memories are uploaded to a database before he dies. In this advanced neural network of artificial intelligence, Brannock is able to visit the stars. Brannock eventually becomes part of the galactic brain, Alpha, a complex web of nodes made up of organisms, machines, and their interrelationships. In England, Laura Ashcroft's fate echoes that of Brannock's when Terra Centralotherwise known as Gaia, the node that guides Earthrequests permission to upload her mind and memories. Like Brannock, Ashcroft's essence merges with the artificial intelligence. Interspersed with the chapters describing Brannock's various incarnations and mutations are vignettes of various human societies. Although these stories are seventeen hundred years (and sometimes more) in the future, they have an "old" feel to themone seems medieval, another ancient. When Alpha/Brannock goes to Earth to determine its fate, he encounters Gaia/Laura who recreated humans after they became extinct fifty thousand years ago. Anderson provides readers with plenty of mental fodder as this novel unfolds. What does it mean to be human? Whoor whatcontrols the destiny of the universe? What happens when machines and humans merge? Recommend this title to mature readers who appreciate science fiction with a complex plot. VOYA CODES: 4Q 2P S A/YA (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; For the YA with a special interestinthe subject; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12; Adult and Young Adult). 2000, Tor, Ages 16 to Adult, 256p, $23.95. Reviewer: Rachelle Bilz
KLIATT
Noted SF author Poul Anderson tries to write a new creation story. This surreal tale involves a timeless human entity named Brannock who can transcend time. Along with another hybrid upload named Laurinda, they interact with Gaia, a very idiosyncratic supermind. Gaia plans to let nature "take its/her course" and destroy humanity itself, to a large extent because people ruined Earth and seemed to favor technology: "Life evolves." Brannock and Laurinda experience different historical eras to help Gaia and themselves understand the scope of humankind. Gaia creates another cycle of humans, with the hope that this time the creatures will work in concert with nature rather than try to overcome it. Another genesis. Lyrical chapters intermix with the exploratory plot, and the result just misses. In reaching to unify myth and science, Poul overreaches—and is less convincing. This is not an easy book to read, and teen readers may not "get the message." Marginally recommended for older readers, because of its sophistication. KLIATT Codes: A—Recommended for advanced students, and adults. 2000, Tor, 248p, 18cm, $6.99. Ages 17 to adult. Reviewer: Dr. Lesley S. J. Farmer; Lib. Media/Teacher Svcs., Cal. State Univ., Long Beach, CA, May 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 3)
Library Journal
Christian Brannock agrees to have his personality uploaded into a computer so that his mind can explore the stars long after the death of his body. When his billion-year journey brings him back to an Earth that has undergone many cosmic changes, Brannock encounters another uploaded personality who restores to him the wonder of being "human." The lyrical approach of this sf master to the meaning of human existence gives his latest effort a surreal, allegorical feel. Recommended for most sf collections. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
From the Publisher
"One of science fiction's most revered writers."—USA Today

"Anderson, far more than many newer science fiction writers, takes the trouble to envision a genuinely strange, complex future for mankind."—The Washington Post

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429970334
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 4/1/2007
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 626,475
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author


The bestselling author of such classic novels as Brain Wave and The Boat of a Million Years, Poul Anderson won just about every award the science fiction and fantasy field has to offer. He has won multiple Hugos and Nebulas, the John W. Campbell Award, The Locus Poll Award, the Skylark Award, and the SFWA Grandmaster Award for Lifetime Achievement. His recent books include Harvest of Stars, The Stars are also On Fire, Operation Chaos, Operation Luna, Genesis, Mother of Kings, and Going for Infinity, a collection and retrospective of his life's work. Poul Anderson lived in Orinda, California where he passed away in 2001.

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Read an Excerpt


I


The story is of a man, a woman, and a world. But ghosts pass through it, and gods. Time does, which is more mysterious than any of these.
A boy stood on a hilltop and looked skyward. The breeze around him was a little cold, as if it whispered of the spaces yonder. He kept his parka hood up. Gloves didn't make his fingers too clumsy for the telescope he had carried here. Already now, before the autumnal equinox, summer was dying out of the Tanana valley and the nights lengthening fast. Some warmth did linger in the forest that enclosed this bare height: he caught a last faint fragrance of spruce.
The dark reached brilliant above him, the Milky Way cleaving it with frost, the Great Bear canted and Capella outshining Polaris in the north, ruddy Arcturus and Altair flanking steely Vega in the west, a bewilderment of stars. Though the moon was down, treetops lifted gray beneath their light.
A spark rose among them, a satellite in a high-inclination orbit. The boy's gaze followed it till it vanished. Longing shook him. To be out there!
He would. Someday he would.
Meanwhile he had this much heaven. Best get started. He must flit back home at a reasonable hour. Tomorrow his school gyroball team was having practice, he wanted to work out a few more Fourier series--if you just told the computer to do it, you'd never learn what went on--and in the evening he'd take a certain girl to a dance. Maybe afterward he'd have nerve enough to recite her a poem he'd written about her. He hastily postponed that thought.
His astronomical pursuits had gone well past the usual sights. This time he savored their glories only briefly, for he was after a couple of Messier objects. There was no need to spoil the adaptation of his eyes. He spoke a catalogue number to the telescope mount. It found the RA and dec, pointed the instrument, and commenced tracking. He bent over the eyepiece and touched the knobs. Somehow it always felt better to focus for himself.
The thing swam into view, dim and misty. He hadn't the power to resolve more than a hint of structure. But it wasn't a nebula, it was a galaxy, the most remote he had yet tried for, suns in their tens of billions, their births and deaths, whirling neutron globes, unfathomable black holes, clouds of star-stuff, surely planets and moons and comets, surely--oh, please--living creatures, maybe--who could say?--some that were gazing his way and wondering.
No. Stupid, the boy chided himself. It's too far. How many light-years? I can't quite remember.
He didn't immediately ask for the figure. Down south he had seen the Andromeda glimmer awesome through six lunar diameters of arc, and it was a couple of million off. Here he spied on another geological era.
No, not even that. Lately he had added geology to his interests, and one day realized that magnolias were blooming on Earth when the Pleiades kindled. It strengthened his sense of the cosmos as a unity, where he too belonged. Well, that star cluster was only about a hundred parsecs away. (Only!) It was not altogether ridiculous to imagine what might be going on there as you watched, three and a quarter centuries after the light now in your eyes had departed it. But across gulfs far less deep than this that confronted him, simultaneity had no meaning whatsoever. His wistfulness to know if any spirit so distant shared his lifetime would never be quenched. It could not be.
The night chill seemed to flow through aperture and lens into him. He shivered, straightened, glanced around in a sudden, irrational-search for reassurance.
Air tingled through his nostrils. Blood pulsed. The forest stood tall from horizon to horizon. Another satellite skittered low above it. An owl hooted.
The ground stayed firm beneath his feet. A nearby boulder, weathered, probably glacier-scarred, bore the same witness to abidingness. If human science asked its age, the answer would be as real as the stone.
We're not little bits of nothing, the boy thought half defiantly. We count too. Our sun is a third as old as the universe. Earth isn't much younger. Life on Earth isn't much younger than that. And we have learned this all by ourselves.
The silence of the stars replied: You have measured it. Do you understand it? Can you?
We can think it, he declared. We can speak, it, Can you?
Why did the night seem to wait?
Oh, yes, he thought, we don't see or feel it the way we do what's right around us. If I try to picture bricks or something side by side, my limit is about half a dozen. If I'd been counting since I was born and kept on till I died, I wouldn't get as high as twenty billion. But I reason. I imagine. That's enough.
He had always had a good head for figures. He could scale them down till they lay in his mind like pebbles in his hand. Even those astrophysical ages--No, maybe it didn't make sense either, harking clear back to the quantum creation. Too much that was too strange had happened too fast. But afterward time must have run for the first of the stars as it did for him. The chronology of life was perfectly straightforward.
Not that it had an exact zero point. The traces were too faint. Besides, most likely there wasn't any such moment. Chemistry evolved, with no stage at which you could say this had come alive. Still, animate matter certainly existed sometime between three and a half and four billion years ago.
The boy's mind jumped, as if a meteor had startled him. Let's split the difference and call the date three-point-six-Jive billion B.C.E., he thought. Then one day stands for ten million years. Life began when January the first did, and this is midnight December the thirty-first, the stroke of the next new year.
So…along about April, single cells developed, nuclei, ribosomes, and the rest. The cells got together, algae broke oxygen free into the atmosphere, and by November the first trilobites were crawling over the sea floor. Life invaded the land around Thanksgiving. The dinosaurs appeared early in December. They perished on Christmas Day. The hominids parted company with the apes at noon today. Primitive Homo sapiens showed up maybe fifteen minutes ago. Recorded history had lasted less than one minute. And here they were, measuring the universe, ranging the Solar System, planning missions to the stars.
Where will we be by sunrise? he wondered for a dizzying moment.
It passed. The upward steepness was an illusion, he knew. To go from worm to fish took immensely longer than to go from fish to mammal because the changes were immensely greater. By comparison, an ancient insectivore was very like an ape, and an ape nearly identical with a human.
Just the same, the boy thought, we've become a force of nature, and not only on this world. It's never seen anything like us before. Our little piece of extra brain tissue has got to have taken us across a threshold.
But what threshold, and what's beyond it?
He shivered again, pushed the question away from him, and turned back to his stargazing.

Copyright © 2000 by The Trigonier Trust
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2006

    Fun and Brainy. :)

    I like this book because the author dares to make you suck up the fact you're not invincible, immortal, or have magic powers. No, you can't break lightspeed and ye can't jump back or forward in time. Instead you make this wonderous world where your inventions do all the work. Then you get spoiled, play lots of games, get bored, look at shadows, then quit. It's real quiet on earth without people. Nothing goes extinct, everything's in harmony, and so on. Our hybrid selves are so human, they don't give a hoot that humans are extinct down the road. Well, one of them considers not letting the earth get blown up at least. More interesting is the other node thing that brings humans back. An extinct species being recreated by the thing it created a billion years ago is something else. Still more interesting is the implication that the thing we invented is learning how to be a proper god by minimizing it's 'divine interventions'. It wouldn't want us to get bored again, would it? Maybe I spoiled the story, but there's your meaning of life and why does God let bad things happen stuff balled into one answer for you. :) My respects to Mr. Anderson. Mayhap he has a few more answers now, but I like to think he had the right of it before departing this earth.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2001

    Next time, write a non-fiction work

    Anderson has a very interesting idea here: about computers scattered all over the universe talking to each other, he just doesn't have much of a story. Jumps in computer technology are interspersed with little, unsatisfying 'meanwhile-back-on earth' subplots that end abruptly and have no real rhyme or reason. He was still doing the set-up for the plot, assuming there ever was one, halfway through the book when I bailed out at the prospect of another barbarian story. In the spirit of Samuel Goldwyn telling us to call Western Union if we want to send a message, write nonfiction if you want to discuss an idea.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 17, 2000

    Format, Format, Format

    My problem is not with the content of this book. Anderson's story is enjoyable, thought-provoking, and it moves fast. The author has spent a considerable amount of time THINKING and his ideas make for an exciting story. The ending possibly could have been more satisfying, but it made a point, nonetheless. My problem with this ebook is the FORMAT. When I spend nearly $20 on an ebook, I expect it to look like more than a poorly downloaded URL. The format of this ebook is very unprofessional and there are some errors in the text. Those might be in the printed copy, as well. However, TOR--the publisher--doesn't have to pay for the paper, printing, and binding of an ebook. You would think that they would put a little effort into making the e-edition acceptible. Think again. Buy the print edition.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 22, 2000

    A bleak look into the future

    Poul Anderson is normal an excellent author to read. However, I didn't find this book especially enjoyable. It is a bleak future where man is the only intelligent species in the galaxy. To explore space a person has his mind downloaded into a probe because there is no way to break the light barrier. Upon their death a person is downloaded into a massive planet wide artificial intelligence where they become little more than databases for the AI to access. This book is infinitly more frightening in its outlook on the future than any apocalyptic or end of days bookin that man does this to himself whether than having it done to him my a god, nature, or highly advanced beings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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