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Crescent City Rhapsody Hardcover – February 8, 2000

3.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
Book 3 of 4 in the Nanotech Series

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

What would it feel like to live through a biological revolution? Many science fiction writers chronicling a vast technological shift lose sight of the people who would have to deal with it. Not so Kathleen Ann Goonan, whose Crescent City Rhapsody is the third of her Nanotech Cycle novels. Each of her characters is profoundly real, and the things that happen to them are as confusing, awe-inspiring, and terrifying as you might expect.

Goonan's story begins with the assassination of Marie Laveau, New Orleans cyber-entrepreneur and grand-niece of the famous voudoun queen. By prior arrangement, Marie is resurrected into a cloned body and prepares for revenge, but she awakens into a world beset by the Silence--periodic bursts of microchip-destroying radiation from space. Enter Dr. Zeb Aberly, a bipolar astrophysicist whose manic episodes help him understand that the Silence contains an alien message and perhaps the potential to change humanity's biology radically. Meanwhile, in Japan, a young biotechnician seals her fate when she helps steal the recipe for a Universal Assembler, a nanotech tool of fearsome power and destructive capability. The stage is set for a revolution, and Goonan delivers, with complex, interwoven story lines that resemble the rhythms and structure of a jazz composition.

Brightly colored lines were inching their way up buildings like plants in a fast-growing jungle. She moved briskly, but her heart was lifeless. She was looking at her past and seeing a future that she was not a part of.

People sat leaning against buildings here and there, which was the hardest to see. They were not begging. Their brains were changing.

They were adapting to the new city.

As cities become organisms, a new generation of profoundly different humans comes of age and hope dawns in Crescent City, and Goonan directs the show with artistic flair. Crescent City Rhapsody is confusing and delightful, a swoony harmony of words swirling around crisply melodic ideas. --Therese Littleton

From Publishers Weekly

In 2012, a mysterious alien signal from space strikes Earth, sending the Information Age into a horrifying tailspin. An intermittent Silence descends on the planet, disrupting all electronic devices and sparking a virus that nine months later produces mutated children with a heightened receptivity to electromagnetic forces. In New Orleans--home of the improvisatory jazz that has clearly inspired Goonan's extrapolation of current scientific trends--Marie Laveau, a mob chieftain and mulatto descendant of voudoun priestesses, is murdered by hit men, but then resurrected through the new science of nanotechnology. She launches a complex 20-year plan to save her city--and her world. Seceding from the Union, Marie's New Orleans becomes the jumping-off place for a new nation, Crescent City, a Caribbean island she creates. Marie eventually brings together Kita, a brilliant Japanese research scientist; Kita's lover, Hugo, who's Marie's faithful assistant; Zeb, the psychologically disturbed astrophysicist who first realized that an alien intelligence lay behind the Silence; Tamchu, a Tibetan refugee and terrorist; and Jason, one of the gifted mutant children. Like Marie, all have to risk extinction while they brave the apocalyptic storm unleashed by ecoterrorists and governments gone xenophobically mad. Their separate stories eventually intersect with Marie's attempt to birth a brave new world that someday will send humanity to the stars. Highly imaginative, peopled with intriguing characters and as intellectually demanding yet emotionally satisfying as Duke Ellington's best, Goonan's literary rhapsody continues her highly praised Nanotech Quartet (Queen City Jazz; Mississippi Blues; to be concluded with Light Music), which imaginatively explores the scientific perils and promises lying at our very doorstep. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Eos; 1st edition (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0380977117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380977116
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,363,348 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In 2012, the electromagnetic impulse that shuts down worldwide communications makes the Northeast blackout of four plus decades ago seems like a blown light bulb. Computers become silent. Studying that void, DC astrophysicist Zeb Aberly concludes that the impulse was not a freak of nature, but a signal from an intelligent ET source. Instead of accolades and kudos, Zeb is forced to run for his life, ultimately ending up in New Orleans.
While the pulses continue to wreck havoc, infants born after the disaster start showing strange physical and mental abilities. In New Orleans, someone assassinates mob chieftain Marie Laveau, her spouse, and child. Nanotechnology brings Marie back to life, but her family was beyond repair. Marie vows revenge. She also tries to build a safe haven with the help of outlawed technological geniuses like Zeb, but time is running out as the new world order plans to stop her and her Crescent City.
CRESCENT CITY RHAPSODY, the third novel in Kathleen Ann Goonan's "Nanotech" series (see QUEEN CITY JAZZ and MISSISSIPPI BLUES) is a wonderful futuristic tale. The story line speculates on the path science and technology may take mankind down in the next decade or so. The action is non-stop in this bleak but fascinating novel. The charcaters are fully developed, but what makes this tale and its predecessors so good is the author's ability to paint a grim landscape that feels genuinely possible.

Harriet Klausner
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Format: Hardcover
Crescent City Rhapsody absorbed me in a way no other novel has in recent history. Kathleen Ann Goonan has the gift for creating complex, interesting characters who people a richly developed plot that takes an intriguing, if terrifying look at the future. Far and away the best of the trilogy, and I liked the other books a lot, too. As a professional writer, I'm a tough customer, but I really loved this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Crescent City Rhapsody is the third in Kathleen Ann Goonan's nanotech/jazz series. It opens with a staggering collapse of global communications and ends with the promise of a better tomorrow. In between the ride is bumpy, sometimes compelling and sometimes not. Of the three, this one has a far higher level of suspense and far less speculation than the other two, probably because the time is so much closer to our own. Solid characters, stunning prose, and only a couple of weak spots make this a book well worth reading.
About those weak spots though,...
After the stunning portrayal of Hawaiian culture in "Bones of Time", the cultural symbols in this book often leave one wondering about their significance. The sections on Voudoun rites and ritual, although accurate and sympathetic, seem forced and awkward, as if they are wondering why they are even here. When she drops into Japan for a brief stint, she confuses common foods and falls back on a few tired cliches about Japanese culture. Other than those two minor weaknesses, an excellent book and a superb addition to her repertoire.
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Format: Hardcover
A series of electromagnetic pulses from space disrupt the operation of human civilization and ultimately force it to come up with something new, namely nanotechnology. Several powerful female figures are central to this, and overcoming chaos in the meantime, while all male figures in the book are basically cute side-kicks. The book never resolves the overarching question: who is sending those pulses and how are we going to kick the **** out of them? Does this mean we're in for a follow-up story that wraps this up? The book presents nothing new or original in the way of technology. You have read this all before in "The Diamond Age" and others. Literary value of the book is low. The author divulges herself in stereotypical descriptions, flat emotions, lazy language. People are always shooting glances at each other, their hearts are beating hard, anger is welling up etc. There is not one, not two, but three love stories going on in this book. A bit too much, unless you enjoy the 50-cent type of romance stories you can buy at the kiosk. The author violates in many places the golden rule: write about what you know. One of the main characters is a Japanese scientist and that's why the author takes us to Japan. She makes people bow in places where no Japanese would bow, she misspells literally EVERY Japanese word she cares to employ ("doma" for domo, "kannitchiwa" for konnichiwa") and generally fails to create a credible atmosphere for scenes taking place in this country. In what other areas that I don't happen to know well has the author allowed herself this kind of sloppiness? Anyway, when I reached the end of the story I was scratching my head asking myself what this was all about. And I paid money for this.
Avoid this book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Cresent City has many amusing and intricate little plots, a couple cute ideas, and a bit of politics. That is it folks! The show is over! Half the plots are never resolved and it's not written well enough for me to forgive Goonan for that. Electronic equipment can be protected from electromagnetic impulses, and the entire premise of nanites being automaticaly immune to the impulse is absurd. The idea of pheremone comunication is about the only thing in the book that is plausible. Read some Neal Stephenson or find a "Transmetropolitan" graphic novel. If you feel the need to read Cresent City Rhapsody go to the library.
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