Harrison’s new SF yarn—quantum space opera? science fiction serial-murder mystery? pyrotechnically paranoid projected physics?—arrives two years after its original British publication.
Three narratives impinge upon one another and finally intermingle. In London 1999, math whiz Michael Kearney and his partner, American physics genius Brian Tate, pursue research that might ultimately allow them to code data in quantum events. Unfortunately, their sponsor, shady entrepreneur Gordon Meadows, may already have sold them to Sony. Michael has a personal problem, too: he’s being pursued by a terrifying entity called the Shrander, from whom he stole a strange pair of dice that may predict the future. To keep the Shrander at bay, he murders people. Four centuries in the future, the Tate-Kearney transformations have given humanity real-time control of the galaxy. Seria Mau Genlicher, having stolen an advanced military spaceship, irreversibly altered her body to meld with the ship; now, regretting her decision, she searches for a way to restore her body through ever more advanced computations. Sadly, meanwhile, the owners want their ship back. In the same time frame, daredevil Ed Chinese ran out of thrills and retreated into computer-generated dreams. Rudely awakened by the Cray sisters, gangsters to whom he owes money, he ends up enslaved to a weird contraption that forces him to glimpse the future. All three protagonists may find answers at the other end of a wormhole generated millions of years ago by vanished, highly advanced aliens.
A profoundly thoughtful, complex, fascinating, and sometimes bewildering mosaic. Does it all add up? Well, objectively speaking, not altogether—and perhaps that’s the point. It was worth the wait since Harrison’s last (Signs of Life, 1997).