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VENTUS by Karl Schroeder Kirkus Star

VENTUS

By Karl Schroeder

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-312-87197-X
Publisher: Tor

Three firsts—solo outing (The Claus Effect, with David Nickle, not reviewed), SF, and hardcover—for Toronto resident Schroeder. Planet Ventus, seeded by nanotechnology a thousand years ago, now harbors earthly life forms, including humans, and three types of nano–life-forms. These, mecha, desals, and Winds, were designed to serve the human colonists; instead, the godlike Winds act only to destroy technology that threatens the planet’s still-precarious ecological balance. Meanwhile, Earth’s civilization—the Archipelago—has developed advanced artificial intelligences, one of which, 3340, turned predatory and was only recently defeated after a dreadful war. The last surviving part of 3340, the nano-enhanced human Armiger, intends to rule Ventus through the Winds, but as yet lacks the key to their control. To gather information, Armiger has placed a nanotech surveillance device inside the head of young Jordan Mason, but this, unknown to Armiger, has begun to function in reverse, plaguing Jason with terrifying visions. Calandria May, an enhanced human instrumental in destroying 3340, suspects Armiger may be a resurrection seed, ready to blossom into another 3340. This she cannot permit. In Jordan she finds a handy means to spy on Armiger. Jordan, however, discovers he has the ability to speak to the desals; they oppose the Winds, remaining loyal to the colonists’ original scheme. The Winds have developed their own language and no longer care to communicate with humans—but they recognize the deadly threat that Armiger poses . . . The glowing, intricate plot arises organically from this stunningly inventive backdrop.

Delightful and engaging, both intellectually and viscerally: a superb achievement.