The first installment in a thoughtful, intricate far-future trilogy from British author Meaney (Paradox first appeared in 2000 in the UK).
Planet Nulapeiron consists of a single vast, multitiered city dug—though it’s not clear why—deep into the crust. Lords and Ladies rule, assisted by Oracles, barely human creatures whose consciousness exists simultaneously in both past and future; they can predict disasters that they’re unable or unwilling to avert. Young Tom Corcorigan lives on a low level with his craftsman father, Davraig, and beautiful, drug-addicted, dancer mother, Ranvera. While prowling the depths, Tom encounters a beautiful Pilot, one of a legendary group who travel to the stars via the fractal-dimension of mu-space. This Pilot, who likes Tom’s poetry, gives the boy a powerful crystal data-module before dying at the hands of the local militia. In secret, Tom activates the module: it tells him the story, 1,300 years in the past, of Pilot Kathy McNamara and her efforts to rescue her lover, Pilot Dart Mulligan, who becomes lost in mu-space. An Oracle, meanwhile, beguiles Tom’s mother and takes her away—after predicting that his father will die within 50 days. When Davraig dies, on schedule, Tom enters school—but soon, tricked into appearing to be a thief by his schoolmates, he’s sold to Lady Darinia as a servitor—after losing an arm as punishment. Sustained by his hatred and thirst for revenge, Tom trains his mind and his body, rises rapidly through the ranks, and eventually becomes a Lord himself. Only one problem remains: how might he kill a being that knows the future?
While making no claims to originality: fast-moving, distinctive, and sometimes spectacular.