Light Music (Nanotech Quartet Series #4)

Light Music (Nanotech Quartet Series #4)

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by Kathleen Ann Goonan

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"Once the world worked differently - before "the Silence" from space quieted the airwaves and rendered electronics useless." "Once there was a haven called Crescent City, built through the wonders of nanotechnology to transport its enlightened inhabitants into the cosmos, far away from the chaos and terrors of a world gone mad. But humanity has failed the city. And… See more details below


"Once the world worked differently - before "the Silence" from space quieted the airwaves and rendered electronics useless." "Once there was a haven called Crescent City, built through the wonders of nanotechnology to transport its enlightened inhabitants into the cosmos, far away from the chaos and terrors of a world gone mad. But humanity has failed the city. And carelessness has left it vulnerable to attack from those who covet the health and prosperity it offers." "One of the original "pioneers" - a recipient of the DNA-altering virus affecting a remarkable few who were born at the Silence's onset - Jason Peabody must now flee in the wake of an unanticipated assault on Crescent City by pirates. In the city-imposed persona of musical six-gun-toting Radio Cowboy, entrusted with the recovery of lost technology needed to heal the sentient metropolis and rocket it upward, he embarks on a bizarre odyssey across a perilous, unrecognizable outside - through a landscape of Western round-ups and tragically "youngening" children; of plague-ravaged humans in foreboding "flower cities"; of conscious machines, talking animals, and toys that long to be real. With him is Dania, a brilliant scientist and resilient survivor whose hidden, troubled past is now painfully remembered beyond the walls of her urban sanctuary." But even as Dania and her Cowboy journey westward, others are being relentlessly drawn to Crescent City from all parts of the globe - and two from the moon, the last humans remaining from the inexplicably vanished Unity colony.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this exuberant if jumbled concluding volume of Goonan's Nanontech Quartet (Queen City Jazz, etc.), the microscopic machines of the 22nd century have gone beyond creating sentient cities and controlling all communications on Earth they are themselves evolving. When mysterious lights point to an alien presence and disappearing people arouse stark fear, three human survivors, including Argentine refugee Angelina, set out to solve the mystery and measure the threat to humanity. A lot of picaresque adventures ensue. Angelina's travels take her from an authoritarian Argentina across the Atlantic in a robot ship to North Africa, then in a mysterious one-way train to a nano-ruled Paris, accompanied all the while by a sapient doll (evolving toward humanity) named Chester. Nothing that happens to the other two, elderly Jason Peabody and his sidekick, Dania, is quite as interesting, until the Crescent City devolves into its original function as a spaceship and rides into orbit. As part of a grand scheme, humans and nanos eventually merge into a single entity linked to Earth. Readers new to the quartet will find the action hard to follow, while others may be put off by the author's at times less than polished narrative technique. Nonetheless, this classic novel of ideas, with state-of-the-art technology as its subject, remains the work of a powerful imagination with a superior command of language. (June 7) FYI: Goonan is also the author of a nonseries novel, The Bones of Time. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
When Crescent City, the sentient hub of a world reinvented by nanotechnology and cosmic revelations, falls under attack by pirates, Jason Peabody, one of the few remaining humans who remembers a time when the world relied on external communications for connections, undertakes a journey to unlock the secret behind the changes that have come to the world. Accompanied by Dania, a visionary who preaches the art of "seeing," Peabody travels halfway around the world in search of the one man who can reveal the truth to him. Goonan brings her "Nanotech Quartet" to a satisfying conclusion as she draws together threads from previous novels (Mississippi Blues, Queen City Jazz, Crescent City Rhapsody) and links them through the personality of a determined and dedicated young man in pursuit of the truth. Recommended, along with other series titles, for most sf collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Last, we're told, of Goonan's Nanotech Quartet (Crescent City Rhapsody, 2000, etc.) about the spread of nanotechnology and the complications pursuant to a transcendental message from space. In the 22nd century, nanotechnology, despite wars, plagues, and bizarre failures, enables humans to live prolonged, healthy lives; in the Flower Cities, technological/human interfacing has produced Gaia-like superorganisms. The sentient Crescent City, floating in the Gulf of Mexico, prepares to blast off into space seeking the source of the message that, while disrupting radio communication worldwide, offers knowledge of physics and reality far beyond that possessed by humanity. But then a pirate attack incapacitates the city's memory; in order to navigate in space, the city needs replacement location codes that must be obtained from Houston's Space Center. Two damaged individuals, Radio Cowboy (once the nanotech engineer Jason Peabody) and Dania Cooper (she's forgotten the physics she once knew) set off on this quest. Others will be drawn toward Crescent City as it slowly heals itself and prepares for launch: Angelina and the sentient doll Chester search for Angelina's son Louis, who has been transformed into light; down from the Moon come Io (she hears light as music) and the autistic musician Su-Chen; physicists Zeb and Ra, absorbed by the Los Angeles dome, emerge in new bodies to investigate the coming transformation. Ecstatic ruminations encompassing superstrings, light, information, and music, packed with incident but lacking plot drivers: impressive yet shapeless and just a tad, well, flowery.

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Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Nanotech Quartet Series, #4

Meet the Author

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Elided Nows


Reverend Dania came to our town five years before I was born.

My name is Matthew. We live in the southeast corner of the Free State of Colorado, not far from the Republic of Texas, where no one ever goes. Dania came from there.

She doesn't like people to call her Reverend, and I don't. I just call her Dania. Some of the old folks call her Reverend, though, and my gramma gets mad at me if she hears me call her plain untitled �Dania.�

When she first came to town, she preached what she called �seeing.� It had to do with light. You might think that sounds obvious -- I know what �obvious� means -- but instead it is the least obvious thing imaginable. But it wasn't just preaching. It was a communion service and you had to drink a special wine that Reverend Dania made. She told you flat-out that it was some kind of genetic engineering stuff that would change your homeobox genes'whatever they are'and give you a new gene for the type of seeing that you would be doing. You could also find out about it with the learning slates she kept in the old warehouse she used as a church, with stuff about DNA that I couldn't figure out. She said I wasn't quite old enough.

But one day I got some of the communion stuff, I just ran up there and got some and Mom and Dad kind of shook their heads when I walked back up the aisle. It was sweet and tasted good. I was little then, but now I'm ten. I think they went to Dania's church because of Gramma, orjust to be nice to Dania, or something. I don't think that they believe what she says like I do.

But it's really just like the old Jesus church because you have to take it all on faith. Nothing happened when I took it, and nothing would happen soon, and nothing might ever happen.

Maybe that's why so many folks did it.

I remember one Fourth of July when I was seven, which happened to be on a Sunday, everybody in town squeezed into her church-room and drank her communion stuff, maybe kind of as a joke. Except that Gramma gets tears in her eyes when she talks about it; it isn't a joke to her. She says that someday the whole world and everything we know and are able to know will change because of Reverend Dania and her band from Crescent City who went on ahead while Dania stayed behind.

But she finally ran out of the stuff and said that she was too worn out to go and make more. Maybe she stopped believing in it herself.

Now she just lives right next door to us in her little white house on Third Street, which is why I spend a lot of time with her. Mom says to be nice to her, that she is a good person and maybe just a little depressed because the world is taking so long to change. Never mind that according to Gramma it has changed, and changed, and changed again since she was a girl.

We have a bird zoo, an aviary, I guess you call it. In the aviary there are all kinds of rare birds. Small brown sparrows and robins, who have red chests. Some meanish black birds called grackles and huger black birds called crows.

We're only a block away from the aviary, and in the summer, in the mornings, I like to lie in bed and listen to the singing of the birds. Grandma says we're lucky to live so close. She says that when she's in bed with her eyes closed, it reminds her of when there were birds everywhere, in all the trees. But something that happened before I was born, the Silence, made them forget where to go when they migrated, and millions and millions of them died. They almost became extinct. A lot of other things are extinct too.

For a long time there was something called nan that changed everything, but people like my grandparents stayed away from it, back in this little mountain town, to stay safe. But someday I think that I want to go out looking for nan and find out what it is. Gramma told me a lot about how things used to be a long time ago, when there was television and radio and a lot more people. She's real, real old, a hundred and fifty years old, I think. Dad says that Gramma's stories are true, even though it all sounds very strange.

Dania says that someday everything will be like it used to be, only a whole lot better. She says the birds will be able to migrate again.

Anyway, we go to school in a big brick building a few blocks away. Mom is a teacher in another classroom, and I'm in the second set, but at the top, and next year I'll be the youngest in the third set. Well, that's hows come I know so much about birds. Mom taught me.

Dania comes to our set once a week and teaches us songs. She even goes around to the houses where there are babies and teaches them songs too. She says that the songs organize their brains in a special way. Dania is crazy about music. Dad said that she's purely crazy, but Mom always frowns at him when he says that and it's that frown that makes him be quiet right away.

One day when she was supposed to be teaching us music, way back when I was in the first set, she drew some kind of complicated picture with a lot of corners to it and talked about superstrings and things she...

Light Music. Copyright � by Kathleen Goonan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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