cover image Proxies


Laura J. Mixon. Tor Books, $24.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85467-6

In the 21st century, humanity's high-tech civilization is tottering from the impact of global warming at the same time it is about to launch the first interstellar expedition. Meanwhile, a secret project in which proxies (artificial human bodies) are controlled by the minds of people with major birth defects--people who have spent their whole lives in artificial environments (as ""creche babies"")--is about to be exposed. Scientists behind the project seek to rescue the creche babies by hijacking the starship. And so evolves an unusual combo of cyberpunk, hard-SF and techno-thriller that's distinguished by brisk pacing, creative world building and deft handling of characters. Mixon's new novel (after Greenwar, 1997) is demanding, and sometimes nearly inaccessible, due to the sheer number of characters and to lapses in their motivation as well as in the tone of the narrative. The application of technology has flaws as well: If anti-matter power plants are small enough to be used in proxies, why haven't they shown up elsewhere? This reads like a novel into which ideas were loaded a trifle faster than the author could organize them, resulting in a story that's as jumbled as it is absorbing. (Sept.)