Last, we're told, of Goonan's Nanotech Quartet (Crescent City Rhapsody, 2000, etc.) about the spread of nanotechnology and the complications pursuant to a transcendental message from space. In the 22nd century, nanotechnology, despite wars, plagues, and bizarre failures, enables humans to live prolonged, healthy lives; in the Flower Cities, technological/human interfacing has produced Gaia-like superorganisms. The sentient Crescent City, floating in the Gulf of Mexico, prepares to blast off into space seeking the source of the message that, while disrupting radio communication worldwide, offers knowledge of physics and reality far beyond that possessed by humanity. But then a pirate attack incapacitates the city's memory; in order to navigate in space, the city needs replacement location codes that must be obtained from Houston's Space Center. Two damaged individuals, Radio Cowboy (once the nanotech engineer Jason Peabody) and Dania Cooper (she's forgotten the physics she once knew) set off on this quest. Others will be drawn toward Crescent City as it slowly heals itself and prepares for launch: Angelina and the sentient doll Chester search for Angelina's son Louis, who has been transformed into light; down from the Moon come Io (she hears light as music) and the autistic musician Su-Chen; physicists Zeb and Ra, absorbed by the Los Angeles dome, emerge in new bodies to investigate the coming transformation.
Ecstatic ruminations encompassing superstrings, light, information, and music, packed with incident but lacking plot drivers: impressive yet shapeless and just a tad, well, flowery.