Nebula-finalist Metzger (Picoverse ) delivers a concept-crammed entry in the SF subgenre of hard space opera. In 2031, the Sun and the Earth sprout high-energy jet exhausts, relics of alien technology triggered by humanity's technology. Trying to maintain order, the Powers (That Be) seek to understand and control the planet-girdling rings created by the exhausts. Biocybernetic humans called Tools, like Simon Ryan, work with unenhanced Pures, like Gen. Thomas Sutherland, to go past "the Point," the shift from human to posthuman superbeings. Sutherland's plans are threatened by the intervention of a host of entities, including some pig-farming Tools, a sentient Internet "ghost," a Muslim U.S. ambassador to Mars, reconstituted intelligent velociraptors and their hyper-evolved lemur rivals, and Simon's cyber assistant, Bill Gates. But Sutherland plans very deeply, 65 million years' worth of deep, and is willing to sacrifice his daughter, Sarah, to achieve success. Metzger tosses theories around like tennis balls and does the same with planets and solar systems, leading to a literal star-smashing climax. Readers who appreciate the outer edges of science, and regular trips past it, may not mind the sudden shifts of viewpoint and the tendency of supersmart characters not to pick up on the obvious. Agent, Richard Curtis. (Jan. 4)
Forecast: Advance praise from Greg Bear and striking jacket art, which does a credible job of depicting the jets of energy above Earth, will cue the target audience.
Release date: 01/01/2005