Third of Goonan’s yarns (Queen City Jazz, 1994; Mississippi Blues, 1997) about the uncontrolled spread of biological nanotechnology and the complications caused by a destructive/instructive message from space. So successful are New Orleans—based Marie Laveau’s investments in cutting-edge nanotechnology that the International Federation, a powerful international conspiracy, has her assassinated. Luckily, Marie arranged to be resurrected in a cloned body with downloaded memories; she now seeks out her assassins and enslaves them with neurological nanotechnology. Meanwhile, Zeb Aberly, an astronomer afflicted with insane genius, begins to decode the messages from space that, perhaps accidentally, have also knocked out the world’s communications and computer networks. Soon Zeb is on the run from the same ruthless conspirators—they—ve partly decoded the message and want to keep the knowledge to themselves. Meanwhile, researcher Kito, of Japan’s Dento corporation, invents a Universal Assembler (it can make anything with nanotech) and develops pheromones to grow living, self-aware cities. To spread chaos, IF terrorists distribute stolen Assembler prototypes; still other cities develop into living entities connecting all their inhabitants. And a generation of weird but talented children, their DNA altered by the space-message, grows to maturity. Marie tries to draw them all to New Orleans, where she hopes to finish building a secure floating city—before the IF’s evil-zombie armies can overwhelm her. Packed with dazzling ideas, this self-described —hallucinatory phantasmagoria— would impress all the more if it weren—t the same scenario’s third time around.