In 40th-century Australia, Zarvora Cybeline discovers the world is threatened by destruction from the sky--yet the planet doesn't have enough technology even to build a steam engine. To save civilization, Zarvora must recover lost 21st-century technology. But technology is proscribed, and the dangers from the sky are joined by enemies in the sea, and even among her own ranks. Zarvora embarks on a bold and ruthless plan to save a world no one else believes is in danger.
Souls in the Great Machine is a big book at 450 pages. Stuffed fuller than a Thanksgiving turkey with great storylines, characters, and concepts, it's got thrilling action, hair's-breadth escapes, tyranny, treachery, villainy, heroism, duels, riots, war, love, hate, obsession, powerful women, mad monks, a returning ice age, a lost race, rediscovered civilizations, invasions, executions, high-tech, steampunk tech, a computer with human components, and numerous subplots. In short, Souls in the Great Machine is huge; it is epic--but it is not sprawling. In the hands of most authors, this complex and ambitious SF novel would be a trilogy. And while Souls may occasionally move a little too fast, the plot never drags and the reader's interest never flags. If you're looking for a sense of wonder, for adventure that respects your intelligence, for an enormously fun read--look no further than Souls in the Great Machine. --Cynthia Ward
From Publishers Weekly
Fast-paced and amusing, McMullen's latest novel (after The Centurion's Empire) is an action-packed adventure in the tradition of world-building SF. Set 20 centuries in the future, in a postnuclear winter society, the tale centers on the Calculor, a fantastic calculating machine powered by nameless human components who remain imprisoned within its workings. As the Highliber of LibrisAaka head librarianAZavora is the de facto ruler of the Calculor, and thus of all Confederation society, packing more political clout than the mayor himself. Through the Calculor's number crunching, Zavora has discovered that the world will be plunged into another "Greatwinter," or ice age, unless she can gain control of a satellite in Earth's orbit, which seems nearly impossible given her society's limited technology. Aiding Zavora in her mission are the Abbess Theresla, who has an innate ability to resist "the Call," a psychic phenomena that forces all humans to follow its deadly beckoning; Lemorel, a spirited young street fighter and librarian within the Libris; and Johnny Glasken, a rogue and former prisoner of the Calculor. McMullen's dramatic pacing and believable characters ensure that readers will enjoy Zavora's quest through a well-wrought, richly imagined multidimensional world.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.