cover image LIGHT MUSIC


Kathleen Ann Goonan, . . Eos, $25.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-380-97712-3

In this exuberant if jumbled concluding volume of Goonan's Nanontech Quartet (Queen City Jazz, etc.), the microscopic machines of the 22nd century have gone beyond creating sentient cities and controlling all communications on Earth—they are themselves evolving. When mysterious lights point to an alien presence and disappearing people arouse stark fear, three human survivors, including Argentine refugee Angelina, set out to solve the mystery and measure the threat to humanity. A lot of picaresque adventures ensue. Angelina's travels take her from an authoritarian Argentina across the Atlantic in a robot ship to North Africa, then in a mysterious one-way train to a nano-ruled Paris, accompanied all the while by a sapient doll (evolving toward humanity) named Chester. Nothing that happens to the other two, elderly Jason Peabody and his sidekick, Dania, is quite as interesting, until the Crescent City devolves into its original function as a spaceship and rides into orbit. As part of a grand scheme, humans and nanos eventually merge into a single entity linked to Earth. Readers new to the quartet will find the action hard to follow, while others may be put off by the author's at times less than polished narrative technique. Nonetheless, this classic novel of ideas, with state-of-the-art technology as its subject, remains the work of a powerful imagination with a superior command of language. (June 7)

FYI:Goonan is also the author of a nonseries novel, The Bones of Time.