First science fiction from the noted essayist and encyclopedist. In the far future, data plaque, a virulent plague that produces information seizure, threatens the galaxy. Interstellar trader Nathaniel "Stinky" Freer, whose ship Tile Dance
is run by a quantum Made Mind called Kirtt, arrives at planet Trencher to take aboard a cargo of nanoforges destined for planet Eolhxir. He also ordered a new battle Mind, but instead got two, both testing loyal; one, Uncle Sam, has lain dormant for 1,000 years. Meanwhile, Insort Geront, one of the Care Consortia (they run generation arks, "rest homes in space," wherein humans can spin out their lives linked to computers) prepares to launch the War of the Lens. Led by Opsophagous of the voracious Harpe Kith, Insort Geront employ computer chips, which actually cause plaque. Lenses from Eolhxir can burn away plaque. Freer takes an Eolhxir native, Cunning Earth Link aboard; she has four breasts, a retractable head, and a lens—which Opsophagous detects. Tile Dance
barely escapes Insort Geront's attack on Trencher, but soon, badly damaged and surrounded by hostile arks, has no choice but to head for Station Klavier—where, among other things, they'll meet Johnny Appleseed. (Don't ask.) Stir in tons of explication and lashings of weird sex. Set it down in prose that frequently stretches credulity into unintelligibility ("The theophrasts of the inner stars designate the masking of a Made Mind as a form of kenosis—the ultimately fatal incarnation of the divine into the progeria of mortal flesh").
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