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Superluminal
     

Superluminal

by Tony Daniel
 

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The future is at war for the soul of humankind ...

It is a time when civilization has extended itself far into the outer reaches of the solar system, and in doing so has developed into something remarkable. But humanity's progeny -- the nanotechnological artificial intelligences called "free converts" -- face extermination at the hands of the tyrant Amés

Overview

The future is at war for the soul of humankind ...

It is a time when civilization has extended itself far into the outer reaches of the solar system, and in doing so has developed into something remarkable. But humanity's progeny -- the nanotechnological artificial intelligences called "free converts" -- face extermination at the hands of the tyrant Amés and his invincible armies, and once the Napoleonesque Director develops superluminal flight, his "Final Solution" will be all but assured.

But hope remains alive in the outer system. From the fleeing refugees of a dozen moons and asteroids, General Roger Sherman has amassed an effective and adaptable military force, already forged into a formidable weapon in the fires of battle.

However, time is a commodity the courageous Federal Army lacks, as total war erupts between the vast cloudships of the outer system and the deadly armada of the Met, a glorious and terrible conflict that will rage among the stars ... and within the hearts and minds of every human being.

Editorial Reviews

Paul Di Filippo
Tony Daniel's new book, Superluminal, a sequel to Metaplanetary (2001), is the kind of recomplicated postmodern space opera that requires literally 60 pages of appendices to totally explicate its characters, technology, plot and milieu. Fully assimilating this book requires a good deal of attention, concentration and creative interpolation on the part of the reader. But its rewards are commensurate with its demands. Daniel has created an awesomely weird yet logical future that bears little resemblance to any lazy off-the-shelf scenarios.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Daniel's much praised Metaplanetary (2001) presented an awesome vision of the future in which the Met (a system of super-strong cables like spider webs) connects the inner planets and people can communicate instantly across impossible distances due to the presence of "grist" (a form of quantum nanotechnology that permeates the solar system). In this ambitious sequel, war breaks out between the inner planets, ruled over by the increasingly despotic Chairman Am s, and the outer planets, led by the maverick Federal Army commander Roger Sherman. Meanwhile, a large cast of characters, some of them human, some complex computer-programs, but most some combination of the two, live out their lives. This is large-scale space opera with an enormous cast, spectacular battle scenes and 11 appendices to help readers keep things straight. The novel doesn't work quite as well as Metaplanetary, in part because the space warfare becomes a bit repetitious and in part because, as the middle book in what will be at least a trilogy, the tale comes to no real conclusion. Nor is Daniel's work as intellectually challenging as that of such writers as Ken MacLeod, Alastair Reynolds and Stephen Baxter. Still, there's much to like here, particularly for fans of Golden Age great E.E. "Doc" Smith. (May 4) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Second part of Daniel's far-future space opera, following the astonishing Metaplanetary (2001). Hundreds of years from now, unbreakable sentient cables link the inner planets together to form the Met; sophisticated "grist" (nanotechnology) underlies everything; many humans exist as LAPs (Large Array of Personalities); "cloudships," huge intelligent spaceships, inhabit the far reaches of the solar system. Director Ames, a megalomaniac, predatory LAP, controls the Met through his Department of Immunity, and has launched a vast war to destroy or capture the outer planets and moons with their swarms of odious "free converts" (independent, sentient computer programs), free-thinkers, radicals, and other freedom-loving beings. Near Neptune and Pluto, Colonel Roger Sherman organizes the defenses, while his estranged son Leo joins the Met army and is dispatched to Neptune. On Mars, young freedom fighter Aubry organizes a raid on Silicon Valley, a prison camp where free converts are tortured and killed, hoping to free her mother. And, in the single new element in the mix, Ames sends genius physicist Li to Mercury to do research-Li's breakthrough hints at the possibility of faster-than-light travel-where LAP Professor Hamarabi Techstock becomes her lover. Soon, however, Li realizes that Ames has absorbed Techstock, and that she's enslaved to Ames' electronic ecstasy, the Glory. When her mother falls ill, Li attempts to visit her illicitly, but Ames captures her and sends her to a prison camp on Earth, where she meets an 800-year-old sentient Jeep. A thumb-twiddler of an installment, swollen to absurd dimensions by repetition and reportage, with none of the individual struggles resolved or even fullyengaged. Agent: Brian DeFiore/DeFiore and Company
Washington Post Book World
“An awesomely weird yet logical future… Utterly fascinating. … This is one entrancing web from which escape is hardly desirable.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061830051
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
544
Sales rank:
772,122
File size:
609 KB

Read an Excerpt

Superluminal

A Novel of Interplanetary Civil War
By Daniel, Tony

Eos

ISBN: 0061051438

Chapter One

It was late autumn in the northern hemisphere of Planet Earth. The Jeep pulled away from the remains of an ancient service area, and rumbled north on the shattered pavement of the old Taconic Parkway of New York State. The trees leaves were just past their peak and had changed to the russet of old blood.

Still, thought the Jeep, enough foliage to hide in, if it came to that.

Once again, the truck hunters were on his trail. The Jeep sensed it through the ground itself. Piezoelectric shock waves fluttered the foil of the detectors in his cargo bay. He didn't even need to listen to the grist to hear the hunters coming.

The sun was high and glinted hard off the Jeep's windshield. The sky was without clouds. These were late-morning hunters, then. Not especially dangerous. They were probably all piled into a soft-bellied roller -- transportation that would flow into the bumps and potholes of the road and allow them to become pleasantly drunk without getting jostled about. No, these particular truck hunters were not a serious threat to the Jeep -- although they might get lucky and take down a thoughtless pickup if one came out of cover to graze on hydrocarb grasses. Still, it paid to be alert, and to put as much distance between yourself and the truck hunters' guns and takedown devices as wheels could take you.

Abruptly, the Jeep spotted a narrow opening -- less than a road, more than a path -- in the forest to the west, and he turned into the trees without slowing down. The trail was just wide enough to accommodate him, as he knew it would be.

The Jeep always knew where he was going and never needed any directions. He was nine hundred years old. The ancient jeep trails of the lower Hudson River were his creation. Some he had completely forgotten, or seemed to forget, but when he came upon them, their destination, their crossroads, and their landmarks would spread out in his mind like a bud unfurling into a flower, and he would turn right or left, and always be on the right track.

He was multiply recursed, imprinted time and again on the substrate of the metal, plastic, and fabric of his chassis. You could take him apart piece by piece, you could smash him to a cube, you could blow him to smithereens, and he'd always come back. He would grow a new Jeep.

It had happened before over the years. Accidents, exploding tires and rollovers, tank explosions. Always, parts had survived, and from those parts the Jeep would become himself again. For the last one hundred years or so, there had been the truck hunters. Many of his compatriots in the forest had been taken. The best way it could happen was to be destroyed outright. The worst way ... that was when they immobilized the truck with disruptive quantum effect charges, then sliced off a portion -- a hood ornament, a grill, a tailgate with the logo written across it -- and eliminated the remainder. Then they took the trophy away. Back to where they came from. The Met.

The Jeep didn't really understand the Met, nor did he want to. All he knew was that the truck hunters usually arrived in helicopters flown from New York City. Nobody much lived in New York City anymore, so they must descend from space, where everyone lived. And that is where they must return with their trophy pieces. He could only imagine that the truck parts were displayed on walls (he pictured the Met, when he pictured it at all, as a series of tight, impassable enclosures), and perhaps, for the amusement of the truck hunter or the hunter's guests, made to speak now and again in the limited way that such primitive robots could synthesize speech. One thing the Jeep did understand about the Met -- it was no place for light trucks or utility vehicles.

The Jeep had so far escaped from the truck hunters. This was an easy task most of the time. The hunters had many pieces of tracking equipment, but the equipment all came down to electromagnetic wave detectors or grist. The e-m was easy to baffle. The Jeep incorporated the best in stealth technology -- vintage defenses from before the nanotech era. It was precisely these interior baffles and shields that made him such a prize for the truck hunters. Such things were no longer manufactured, and the Jeep could only assume that the knowledge of how to make them had been misplaced.

Overcoming the grist was another matter, however. The Jeep had developed an amalgamation of makeshift solutions to this problem. Some of these were conscious -- methods of backtracking on a molecular level and putting out multiple ghost shells that "tasted" like Jeep on the outside but were empty on the inside. But some of the Jeep's defenses were instinctive. They had evolved, and even the Jeep wasn't aware of how they worked. Like the construction principles of the Met, this, too, was something he did not wish to understand. Too much self-understanding led to self-destruction. The Jeep had seen this happen time and again with the trucks of the forest. When one of them developed logical sentience -- full consciousness -- it wasn't long before the truck hunters had bagged it.

You could never be smarter than a Met dweller. They were made of living material shot through with grist, and there was no end to the information they could process. You didn't survive by being smarter. You survived by something else. And if you knew exactly what the "something else" was, why then you'd be too smart for your own good.

So what did the Jeep know? He knew what was wide and what was narrow. He knew how to make a complete turn in a tight space. He knew what was steep and what was boggy. He pictured his whole world -- physical and mental -- as landscape. As terrain.

Continues...

Excerpted from Superluminal by Daniel, Tony Excerpted by permission.
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Meet the Author

Tony Daniel is the author of the novels Earthling and Warpath, along with the pioneering and well-received Metaplanetary, to which Superluminal is a sequel. Daniel heads up the New York City theater troupe Automatic Vaudeville, which produces independent films. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and daughter.

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