cover image Slant


Greg Bear. Tor Books, $24.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85517-8

Violent crime is rare in the ""data-flow culture"" of mid-21st century America. Advanced computer and nano-technologies have ended poverty, and sophisticated therapies permanently relieve the distress of the emotionally unstable. Now, however, something has gone horribly wrong. Seattle Public Defender Mary Choy is called in to investigate the gruesome death of two prostitutes who were undergoing illegal nano-transformation. Further technology-related complications ensue, and then an executive at a nanotech firm finds himself approached by a wealthy and secret right-wing organization that believes society is about to collapse. Across the nation, thousands of people who have gone through therapy are having ""fallbacks""--reverting to their previous mental states--and also showing signs of Tourette's syndrome. Many are committing suicide. In this sequel to his Hugo Award-nominated Queen of Angels, Bear (Legacy) once again provides a panoramic view of a complex future world. Bear is particularly adept at portraying the ways in which new technology is likely to affect people, both for good and for ill. His application of virtual reality to the entertainment business, and particularly to pornography, is especially startling. Also effective is his portrayal of the breakaway republic of Green Idaho as a place where militia supporters and neo-Luddites find their own peculiar brand of violent contentment. Bear, who's won two Hugos and four Nebulas, should rack up nominations if not wins for this one as well. (July)