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Vast Mass Market Paperback – February 8, 2001

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 359 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; New edition edition (February 8, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857987454
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857987454
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,142,466 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews Review

The Vast curtain opens with four crew members on the vessel Null Boundary making their centuries-long journey towards the star system of Alpha Cygni. More refugees from a broken civilization than explorers, they seek the Chenzeme, murderers of the human race, whose 30-million-year-old warships prowl the near and far reaches of space, destroying all they encounter.

Linda Nagata is remarkably adept at introducing new concepts without disturbing the flow of the narrative. Vast molds human figures out of a clay of genetic, nano, and virtual technology, allowing their humanity to take primacy: "It came without warning, making no sound. Lot first sensed its presence as a flash of motion in the central tunnel. He looked around, to see a flood spiraling down on him, white water sluicing through an invisible pipe, a snake made of water. It swept into the chamber; it coiled around him, an arm's length away. The coils of the snake melted together, and he was encased in a glistening shell. Charismata of exhilaration rained against his sensory tears, a strange foreign sense of greeting. Tendrils reached out to him from the shell's shimmering white surface, a thousand slender white tendrils brushing him. Faint touches. Where they contacted his skin suit they retracted, but where they touched his bruised face they stayed. Familiarity flooded him, a warm sense of union that eased the black pressure of the cult [virus] forever burning under his skin. A voice whispered in his ear, produced by a trembling membrane on the end of a tendril. 'You know us?'"

Make sure you're in a comfortable position when you start reading: Linda Nagata is light years ahead of her contemporaries in writing heart-racing, hard-science SF. Once this story sinks its teeth into you, you won't hear the phone ringing or care that it's way past bedtime until the last page is turned. --Jhana Bach --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

A last remnant of humanity seeks its ancient enemy....

Praise for Linda Nagata's The Bohr Maker:

"Brilliantly original...Makes her work favorably comparable with that of leading-edge stylists such as Bruce Sterling and Neal Stephenson."
--Chicago Booklist

--The Denver Post

--The New York Times Book Review

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

If that sentence makes sense to you, you can probably understand this book.
Roy Sablosky
I was at a complete disadvantage with this book because I had not read the previous books in the series.
M. Dale
It did establish a lot of back story and character development for the series.
Hank Luttrell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By allison wyndham on July 4, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I sought out this title after an annoying run of 2-dimensional, flat science fiction. You know the type - guy must solve riddle, shag the chick and win fame in his own life-time whilst eluding the bad guys! And all in teenage nerd prose. This can be fun if it's well-written, but very boring otherwise.
'Vast' is not one of those books. Read 'Vast' if you are searching for some characters with a bit of meat on them and you don't mind a bit of vertigo.
The setting is far in the future, the human race is all but extinct. The reader travels on the Null Boundary, a ship whose captain and passengers are seeking answers about the Chenzeme, a long-extinct race whose automated weapons still search space for intelligent life in order to wipe it out. Each character has brought along their personal demons, which the reader glimpses in the confinement aboard Null Boundary. In contrast to the yawning vacuum the ship travels through, this setting is enough to make both claustrophobes and agorophobes squirm.
Ms Nagata does not patronise the reader by keeping the plot simple, nor are the motives of the characters clear. Her books "The Bohr Maker" and "Deception Well" are well worth reading in advance as they set the scene for Vast, though this book stands alone in its story.
If you want something original, imaginative and substantial, then 'Vast' is well worth the read. I'd recommend this book for those who liked Peter Hamilton's imagination, but found his male characters irritating. Also worth checking out if you're a fan of Iain Banks' science fiction. Of course - I loved it!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By CD Harris on November 28, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I lumbered through Deception Well in order to read this book. I didn't really enjoy that, to be honest (see my review of that book for more). But this one was worth the trouble.
I needed to have the background from the previous book for this one to make any sense, but, once I had it, this one was a real gem. Nagata is among the more imaginative and detail-driven authors now publishing (in this or any genre). Sometimes, yes, she gets off the track of keeping the humanity of her characters the central principle (and their humanity is very much at issue) and she still tends to assume too much. But my biggest complaint with Deception Well has been more than adequately corrected here: she doesn't just tell us that a character feels or thinks a certain way and then assert that this makes sense without any support - she genuinely shows it and makes the reader see it.
This is not a simple book. It is dense and it requires far more work to read and understand than 99% of the pulp on the shelves. As such, it was a real treat, and well worth the time and trouble required to get the most out of it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By tertius3 on May 17, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although nothing on the Bantam pb hints at it, this is a sequel to Deception Well I should have read first (and possibly the Bohr Maker and Tech Heaven, too, for the origins of the technology?). The characters and desperate situation are already fully formed as this escape-by-sentient-spaceship adventure begins, but you have clues and time to reconstruct enough of their history and motivation during the slow chase that begins the story (stretching over years, you'll wish you could enter cold sleep, too). The story is simple: 5 humans of future aspect, perhaps the only ones left, confined to their ship on a fixed trajectory to the enemy's homeland. That said, Nagata presents an amazingly original, ingenious, and convincingly detailed universe. Every so often a stunning revelation really twisted my perspective on the story in astonishing directions. The pursuing Chenzeme are as alien a thing as I've ever read in SF, convincingly different, chemically adaptable, implacable, and ageless machines, or perhaps bio-machines just pursuing sexual congress! The story is full of concentrated invention, a whole new realm of polymentalist humans, versions of self-cloning aptly termed "ghosting," planet creation, and more. What is unsettling about Nagata's talent is how, just as I got my mind around one thrilling new alien concept, it morphs into something further, or still another entirely new idea appears. While the human interactions don't go much beyond "the eternal triangle" as new individuals are created, the intellectual fascination is what kept me reading through the slow parts, to a more exciting if abrupt end as they break out of their confining "core."
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By biomimetic on November 18, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is close to perfect, although not for everybody. The prose is sparse, smart and literate, as well as being communicated in a number of styles ranging from truly obtuse alien lingo, to raygun space opera. The novel makes allusions to several human myths and paradoxes, some of which are stated by other reviewers. The thing that's great about this book is it's assumption that you, the reader, are bright enough to figure out what's going on. It drops you in very foreign territory and gets you thinking about the what ifs of science - basically it made me remember why I love science fiction when it's good. But if you prefer bad me-too cyberpunk it won't be your cup of tea. However, it isn't a slow read if you enjoy a good solid peice of fiction and it begs you to think about it even when you've put it down. It's subtlety has stayed with me as I think about it - the main complaint I've heard is, in many ways, the point of the book - that the characters are less real than the artifacts of their short existence, and that evolution most times is about divergence. It's the continuation of another book (second half repackaged by the publisher? - either way it worked out for the best), and if I had read that one first, I wouldn't have picked it up. Something special. Read it.
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More About the Author

Linda Nagata is the author of multiple novels and short stories including The Bohr Maker, winner of the Locus Award for best first novel, and the novella "Goddesses," the first online publication to receive a Nebula award. Though best known for science fiction, she writes fantasy too, exemplified by her "scoundrel lit" series Stories of the Puzzle Lands. Her newest science fiction novel is The Red: First Light, published under her own imprint, Mythic Island Press LLC. She lives with her husband in their long-time home on the island of Maui.

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