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Small Miracles Hardcover – October 13, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765320940
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765320940
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,327,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"I was royally entertained. For the duration of the book, I was convinced I understood nanotechnology. Buy this book quick."

-- LARRY NIVEN, Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Ringworld --back cover

"Lerner shows what it might be like to live in times of artificial intelligence. An entrancing and frightening novel."

-- JERRY POURNELLE, Prometheus and Robert A. Heinlein Award-winning author --back cover

"' Miracle: an event or act that breaks a law of nature -- especially one attributed to a deity.' The miracles in Edward M. Lerner's new book may be small ones, but they fit the definition in that they definitely aren't natural -- which could be a problem. When God makes a miracle, it's a wonder, but a man-made miracle can as easily be a blunder. We are only human after all."

-- BRIAN LUMLEY, Grand Master of Horror and author of Necroscope --back cover

"Edward M. Lerner's Small Miracles is a splendid combination of hard SF and a techno-thriller about nanotechnology gone really, really wrong."

-- ERIC FLINT, New York Times bestselling author of the Ring of Fire series --back cover

"From its explosive beginning to its explosive finale, Small Miracles is fast paced and very high tech and reads like a Michael Crichton novel. It is extremely intriguing and provocative; I couldn't put it down, especially during the last fifty pages when so many lives were in danger. The epilogue is wonderfully downbeat and open, letting the reader know that the real nightmare has just begun."

-- SFrevu --SFrevu, October 2009 (

About the Author

EDWARD M. LERNER has degrees in physics and computer science. As an engineer, Lerner has led development projects for NASA and various contract work from telecommunications to national defense. His books include Probe, Moonstruck, and the collection Creative Destruction, as well as a collaborative series of Ringworld prequels (Fleet of Worlds and Juggler of Worlds) with Larry Niven. He lives in Virginia with his wife, Ruth.

More About the Author

A physicist and computer scientist, Edward M. Lerner toiled in the vineyards of high tech for thirty years, as everything from engineer to senior vice president. Then, suitably intoxicated, he began writing full time.

His novels run the gamut from near-future technothrillers, like Small Miracles and Energized, to traditional SF, like the InterstellarNet series. Collaborating with NY Times bestselling author Larry Niven, Ed also wrote the Fleet of Worlds series of Ringworld companion novels. Much of Ed's short fiction has been collected in Creative Destruction and Countdown to Armageddon / A Stranger in Paradise. His nonfiction articles on science and technology centerpiece Frontiers of Space, Time, and Thought: Essays and Stories on The Big Questions."

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Christina Paige on October 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover
In Small Miracles, Brent Cleary works for a nanotech company that makes nano body armor. His job is to accompany cops on their beat to demonstrate how effectively the suit protects the wearer from knife thrusts, bullets, even infection. A single successful demonstration can mean a huge order for the company. It's 2015; the US is involved in a 3-front war, and gasoline costs eight dollars a gallon, so we still haven't converted to metric. Talk about a bleak future!
When the ride-along goes FUBAR, Brent only survives because of the suit.
A year later, Garner Nanaotech is poised to make huge profits, all because Brent survived the unsurvivable in their product. Brent wonders how the nanites preserved him, and what mechanisms were in place to eliminate the nanites from his system once they did their job. As he begins to ask questions and conduct his own research, his best friend Kim is encountering design flaws that put the sales schedule at risk - which must not happen. Parallel stories of Darwinian survival evolve: that of the company, that of the nanites, and those of the individuals who are the unintending makers of a changed future.
Lerner has co-authored three Ringworld prequels with Larry Niven, and several s-f techno-thrillers of his own, including Fools' Experiments, which has a similar theme of technology gone AIwry. He has an impressive array of short story publications, and his collection Creative Destruction is probably well worth reading. His official degrees are in physics and computer science, but his unofficial PhD is clearly in suffering bureaucracy ungladly. Almost all his villains are the self-serving weasels that infest corporations to subvert all work to their own nest-feathering. His descriptions of what goes wrong, how, and why are terrifyingly realistic.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Arthur W. Jordin on August 8, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Small Miracles (2009) is a standalone SF novel. It is set in the near future when nanotechnology development is blooming.

In this novel, Brent Cleary is a sale engineer for Garner Nanotech. He has been riding on police patrols to demonstrate the new nanosuits and to get ideas for improvements.

Kimberley O'Donnell is a programming section leader at Garner Nanotech. Kim is a close friend of Brent.

Daniel Gardner is the founder of Gardner Nanotech. Dan is a believer in nanotech and his company.

Charles Walczak is director of the Biology Department at Gardner Nanotech. He is ambitious and prideful.

In this story, Brent is riding with Sargeant Korn in Angleton. It is his first night patrol. Korn soon learns about the stiffening effect and Brent tells him more.

Then Korn gets a domestic disturbance call. They drive to a large apartment building. Korn turns off the ignition and leaves Brent in the car as he goes into the building. Brent notices some locals stealing gasoline from a pipeline and gets out of the car to scare them away.

When Brent recovers consciousness, he is hospitalized with major wounds. The pipeline was gone and so was the apartment building. The car was wrapped around a utility pole and Brent was trapped inside.

The nanosuit had kept him alive, but bones were broken and organs were damaged or destroyed. After months of treatment, Brent returned to the Garner Nanotech headquarters in Utica. Dan had sent the company plane to fly him back and fellow employees meet him at the airport.

Kim rides home with him and spends the night watching over him. When he wakes the next morning, she warms muffins for breakfast.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J. B. Hoyos VINE VOICE on November 1, 2009
Format: Hardcover
It's a miracle that sales-support engineer Brent Cleary survived the fiery pipeline explosion that killed over six-hundred people. Fortunately, the nanosuit he wore prevented him from being crushed and incinerated. It also injected him with computerized first-aid nanobots (smaller than blood corpuscles) that rushed to provide coagulant to hemorrhages. These nanobots were programmed to self destruct within twenty-four hours and be expelled through his urinary tract.

At least one of the nanobots has survived in Brent's cerebrospinal fluid. The nanobot becomes aware of itself and names itself "One." It learns, growing more intelligent. Soon, "One" possesses Brent, virtually enslaving him. "One" doesn't want to be alone. When Brent returns to his job at Garner Nanotech, "One" forces him to inject nanobots into his coworkers, turning them into possessed, zombie-like humans. With the aid of their human hosts, the nanobots conspire to spread like a plague across the earth, dominating all of mankind.

Edward M. Lerner's "Small Miracles" is a science fiction horror novel that is frighteningly plausible in today's rapidly growing field of nanotechnology. (Imagine nanobots being injected into the bloodstream to repair a damaged heart valve. It would be the end of open heart surgery.) "Small Miracles" is the most terrifying novel of Artificial Intelligence I have read since Dean Koontz's "Demon Seed." It is also very reminiscent of Ira Levin's horror classic "The Stepford Wives."

My favorite character in "Small Miracles" is Kim O'Donnell, a computer programming engineer at Garner Nanotech and friend of Brent Cleary. She realizes his personality has been greatly altered since the explosion.
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