Pretentious but all-to-frequently brilliant chronicle of humanity and superintelligent machines shuffling off their tangled mortal coils. Starting with Vernor Vinge's concept of the Technological Singularity (the moment when machines begin to evolve without human assistance or restraint), Broderick takes three people at the end of this century toward the technological/biological apocalypse, beginning with Abdel-Malik, a Lebanese-born judge. In 2004, Malik is murdered, reanimated about 70 years later, and now rules on the fate of humans in an era when the race has given control of its destiny to the Aleph, a godlike, continuously evolving AI. Amanda, a near-thirtysomething adolescent who plays a great violin, can hack into any communications system and was caught breaking into a mag-lev freighter terminal with her boyfriend Vik as part of a failed attempt to hitch a ride on these superfast underground trains. Malik confines her to her home, takes away her communications and Mall visitation privileges, but Amanda hacks through and, using robot bees, gets the attention of Mathewmark, a product of a severely isolated, kind of latter-day–Mennonite compound in which all technology is banned. Mathewmark agrees to help Amanda and Vik sneak down a mag-lev ventilator shaft inside the compound, but ends up almost dying when their plans go awry. Malik rules that Amanda must take care of Mathewmark, whose brain is now rebuilt of computer circuitry and has extraordinary abilities that lead them to discover the apocalyptic event the Aleph has planned to take everyone to the next evolutionary step.
As he did in his exasperating but highly regarded White Abacus (1997), Broderick pushes the genre's envelope as he combines cumbersome experimental prose, windy sermons, and a brash, defiantly imaginative cyberpunk spew of ideas.