Mistress of Molecules [NOOK Book]

Overview

Libra Calomel Valois has never seen a tree, let alone a forest. She lives on the planet Precursor, where anything that grows is poisonous to humans. The planet is, however, rich with heavy-metal molecules which are mined by huge industrial chemical plants, plants that pollute the air and shorten the lifespan of the populace. The planet, like most human planets, is controlled by these powerful corporations who use the militant churches to ...
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Mistress of Molecules

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Overview

Libra Calomel Valois has never seen a tree, let alone a forest. She lives on the planet Precursor, where anything that grows is poisonous to humans. The planet is, however, rich with heavy-metal molecules which are mined by huge industrial chemical plants, plants that pollute the air and shorten the lifespan of the populace. The planet, like most human planets, is controlled by these powerful corporations who use the militant churches to anesthetize and control the populations.

Libra has a hidden fully-equipped chemical lab, built by her father before he was taken away and killed by the Church of the Living Entropy for the crime of possessing forbidden chemicals. Now she continues her father’s work as she fights for liberty using her extraordinary powers of chemical synthesis to terrorize those in power.

Far away across the galaxy, Andre Sucher is raised in isolation, indoctrinated from birth by the rigid, misogynist church of Yahweh’s Tender Touch. At puberty he is sent to Seminary to become a fighting minister. The abuse is so great, that Andre uses his incredible intelligence to escape and stow aboard a Zgaarid spaceship. Tolerated by the Zgaarid crew, Andrew learns that this armadillo-like people, who control all space travel through their Quilt technology, has long ago lost their ability to innovate, living only off the vast accumulated wisdom of their Ancestors.

When Andre’s quick thinking saves the Zgaarid spaceship and crew, he’s honored, transformed into a Zgaarid ancestor, and implanted with hidden technology and access to all Ancestor wisdom.

Andre is assigned to solve the problem of chemical terrorism on Precursor. He meets Libra. She uses him to spy on the government’s camp. Andre finds himself overcoming his fear and loathing of women. Against all odds, Andre and Libra fall in love. So when Andre discovers that Libra is that chemical terrorist he’s been assigned to find, he risks his life to help Libra and her boss, Jules, escape into the undeveloped wilds of Precursor, but with no human-edible food.

Andre convinces Libra that she need not destroy society through terrorism. Instead, she could undermine the power structure by genetically engineering the native species to produce human-edible food. Pursued by the Precursor ministers (police) and starving day by day, Libra races to solve the food problem. Just as she succeeds, the ministers capture her and force her to promise to leave the planet.

Libra, Andre and Jules create a plan for seeding Precursor with Libra's self-propagating version of the new organism. A chain reaction begins, so in a few years, Precursor will be able to feed itself. Even though Libra will be long gone, the chemical-factory economy will lose its iron grip on the populace. In the meantime, however, Libra and Andre, now outlaws, will have to find another home—another planet to free. Gemariah will be their next stop.
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Editorial Reviews

Ben D. Kline
Vivid; expressive; and completely fresh. Quick easy pace and easy to read prose makes it a simple book to read; but with a nice depth to make you continue thinking long after putting it down - a tough combination to find (and achieve as a writer).
Dennis Cadena
Weinberg works with a gentler touch as he deftly weaves comedic scenes throughout. Some involve imaginative and unexpected minor characters, key to enlivening the plot and providing many delights to readers; but most are in the form of the small and big moments when Libra and Andre come to realize the limits of their own intelligence and the possibility that, as Hamlet reminds Horatio, there is more than is dreamt of in their philoso
Releanna Releanna
I enjoyed reading this book just as much as I liked First Stringers. The planets are very well defined and thought through, there are many different themes interwoven - the science, esp. of chemistry, religion, fanaticism, exploitation of people, a kind of church-police called ministers, a very naive young man - a love story that is rather nice. I'm glad that I got this book
Ira Pearson
This is a fun page turner. Interesting, likable characters. Truthfully, in the current political climate, I'm surprised to find a book like this with a "terrorist" working as a force for good. Even if some of Libra's revolutionary activities seem just a bit far-fetched, they are inspiring. I'm now looking forward to the further adventures of Andre and Libra. Trying to keep this short and sweet: I liked this novel. Recommended.
Steven Mohan, Jr.
Chock full of clever ideas and wry wit, Gerald Weinberg's Mistress of Molecules explores the forces that bind chemicals, societies--and people. A fun, thoughtful read.
LibraryThing - Ben D. Kline
Vivid; expressive; and completely fresh. Quick easy pace and easy to read prose makes it a simple book to read; but with a nice depth to make you continue thinking long after putting it down - a tough combination to find (and achieve as a writer).
Amazon - Dennis Cadena
Weinberg works with a gentler touch as he deftly weaves comedic scenes throughout. Some involve imaginative and unexpected minor characters, key to enlivening the plot and providing many delights to readers; but most are in the form of the small and big moments when Libra and Andre come to realize the limits of their own intelligence and the possibility that, as Hamlet reminds Horatio, there is more than is dreamt of in their philoso
LibraryThing - Releanna Releanna
I enjoyed reading this book just as much as I liked First Stringers.
The planets are very well defined and thought through, there are many different themes interwoven - the science, esp. of chemistry, religion, fanaticism, exploitation of people, a kind of church-police called ministers, a very naive young man - a love story that is rather nice.
I'm glad that I got this book
LibraryThing - Ira Pearson
This is a fun page turner. Interesting, likable characters. Truthfully, in the current political climate, I'm surprised to find a book like this with a "terrorist" working as a force for good. Even if some of Libra's revolutionary activities seem just a bit far-fetched, they are inspiring. I'm now looking forward to the further adventures of Andre and Libra. Trying to keep this short and sweet: I liked this novel. Recommended.
Smashwords - Steven Mohan, Jr.
Chock full of clever ideas and wry wit, Gerald Weinberg's Mistress of Molecules explores the forces that bind chemicals, societies--and people. A fun, thoughtful read.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940012564351
  • Publisher: Gerald Weinberg
  • Publication date: 1/8/2011
  • Series: Molecules , #1
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Gerald M. Weinberg (Jerry) writes "nerd novels," such as The Aremac Project, Aremac Power, Jigglers, First Stringers, Second Stringers, The Hands of God, Freshman Murders, Earth's Endless Effort, and Mistress of Molecules—about how brilliant people produce quality work. His novels may be found as eBooks at <>or on Amazon at . Before taking up his science fiction career, he published books on human behavior, including Weinberg on Writing: The Fieldstone Method, The Psychology of Computer Programming, Perfect Software and Other Fallacies, and an Introduction to General Systems Thinking. He also wrote books on leadership including Becoming a Technical Leader, The Secrets of Consulting (Foreword by Virginia Satir), More Secrets of Consulting, and the four-volume Quality Software Management series. He incorporates his knowledge of science, engineering, and human behavior into all of writing and consulting work (with writers, hi-tech researchers, and software engineers). Early in his career, he was the architect for the Mercury Project's space tracking network and designer of the world's first multiprogrammed operating system. Winner of the Warnier Prize and the Stevens Award for his writing on software quality, he is also a charter member of the Computing Hall of Fame in San Diego and the University of Nebraska Hall of Fame. The book, The Gift of Time (Fiona Charles, ed.) honors his work for his 75th birthday. His website and blogs may be found at
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 24, 2012

    A fast-moving, thought-provoking book!

    Don’t be fooled. From its setting on Precursor—a barren planet where everything that grows is toxic to human life, and where people are enslaved by a corrupt alliance of corporate and religious interests—Mistress of Molecules might seem like the kind of machine-laden, hard science fiction that is strong on technical descriptions and weak on human interest. But human interest is what drives this engaging, action-driven novel in which chemistry—both the scientific and the romantic kind—plays an important part. Weinberg, who has made a career writing nonfiction that sheds insight into our relationships with technology, infuses this book with astute, often witty, and sometimes profound observations on the nature of societies, religion, freedom, and terrorism. The book also brims with intriguing scientific ideas and speculations. But what keeps the pages turning are the stories of Andre and Libra, two gifted, troubled souls, who, in seeking to shape a better life for the inhabitants of Precursor,find their own happiness as well.

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  • Posted July 29, 2011

    A deftly woven tale of two people, each seeking freedom...

    Gerald Weinberg's sci-fi work 'Mistress of Molecules' is, on the surface, a tale about chemicals, eco-terrorism, and interstellar travel. However, it works on another level - one of two people, each seeking freedom of their own. They may start out in different sections of the galaxy, but it's when they come together that things kick into high gear. Libra, a gifted chemist, seeks to liberate the residents of her planet, Precursor, from the pollution-spewing policies that cut lifespan by almost half. Making matters even more dangerous is the nature of her society, which is run by a quasi-religious police state. In another part of the galaxy, the young man Andre is brought up amidst squalor and abuse, in both his own household and in the religious order he's inducted into. Some of the book's more tense and gripping scenes take place where Andre finally rebels, and desperately flees the confines of the monastary-island and stows away aboard a starship. Andre, against all odds, manages to survive and thrive amidst the alien race he encounters, the Zgaarid. But his world is turned upside down yet again as he meets the mysterious and intriguingly alluring Libra on Precursor. Without giving away any more spoilers, let's just say that their road together doesn't run smoothly. But it's wide, deep, and the consequences shape the future of both the humans' world and that of the Zgaarid. A solid, engaging sci-fi read!

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  • Posted December 15, 2010

    Recommended - Good book!

    **Spoiler warning - I do give some detail of the book in my review. Some of my favorite parts we left out so others could discover them on their own as I did.**
    I was intrigued by the description of this book. The first main character we meet, Libra, is a brilliant girl raised by an alcoholic Mom. She seems to be influenced more by the short video of her father's trial that ended in his death. She's been waiting her whole young life planning revenge against the church (which controls the government) that killed him. She has a clever plan to strike at the industry that pollutes her planet so much no one has ever seen the sun. Helping her is the fact that women on this world are seen only as baby factories without much intelligence. This allows her to keep her father's lab and move around with anonymity. I like how her clever plans have small flaws. It's more realistic and suspenseful.
    Just when you're ready to find out how the first stage of Libra's plan turns out, we switch over to Andre's story. It takes a bit to adjust - just like you were plucked off of one planet and deposited on another. This story line is a little rougher. Andre is a small child when we meet him. His world is very limited and full of abuse. He's very bright and a lot more normal than he has any right to be. We see how he learns and grows despite his restrictions and lack of human contact and love.
    We go back and forth as Libra's plans unfold and Andre ages into a pre-teen. Andre meets his first (and for quite a while only) friend. He is also sent away to seminary - which is completely alien and horrifying. A lot of really horrible things happen to Andre there. Some of it is hard to read but really bonds the reader with Andre.
    **Spoiler alert until the last paragraph - skip if you want**
    While Libra's attacks against the plant & government go perfectly, the results are exactly what she imagined. She wasn't able to predict some of the negative outcomes. This seems to come mainly from her youth and lack of a broad point of view. She learns as she goes with help from her boss - the lovable Jules.
    The storylines start their journeys toward each other when Andre escapes from seminary. It's an engaging trip with him - nerve-racking and hopeful at the same time. A couple strokes of luck get Andre onto a Zgaarid ship. We see a few adventures while Andre is on the ship.
    It's one of my favorite parts of the book.
    We come back to Libra's story and get so thoroughly involved that Andre's arrival into her world is a nice surprise. He's there to help catch the group of subversives (aka Libra) responsible for the trouble. Of course, they connect (in many ways) and things get interesting.
    To explain what happens next would completely spoil the best part of the book. The action comes fast and furious until the satisfying end. It's a clever wrap up to the story arc and I look forward to the next book in which I hope there are more adventures for Andre and Libra. I liked this book and definitely recommend it!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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