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The Highest Frontier Mass Market Paperback – August 28, 2012
All Books, All the Time
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"This hip, smart tip of the hat to Heinlein's young adult novels hits all the right notes. It's got a plausible near future, optimism, savvy characters who move into action swiftly. This novel takes us to a place we haven't been in a long time—and I, for one, miss a lot.”
—Gregory Benford, author of Timescape
"And as you might expect from a scientist/novelist, the book is filled with all sorts of technical innovations…this in the story of Jenny Ramos Kennedy, a gifted high school athlete who’s lost her genetically engineered twin brother and is trying to make the best of her first year at college. And wouldn’t you know it, unlike most of our freshman years, this delightfully brilliant novel has the future of Earth hanging in the balance."
—All Things Considered, NPR
"[The] first novel in a decade from a respected author of hard SF (A Door into Ocean, The Children Star) brings out the complexities and anguish of the teen years while portraying a bold community of the future with all its strengths and weaknesses…. SF fans of all ages should enjoy this glimpse into a possible future at once disturbing and exciting by a graceful storyteller."
—Library Journal, Starred Review
"Slonczewski’s world-building has always gone deep; she gives the profoundest thought to how biology, culture, social structure, language, politics and economics combine to shape the future."
"Unique characters, witty scientific and societal extrapolations, and a complex, mind-blowing setting make this sedately paced narrative a delightfully amusing read."
"The Highest Frontier is an unnervingly brilliant novel, one which skewers relatively impartially almost every aspect of present human culture in a future coming-of-age story, with a deep, if cynical, understanding of the future implications of the world we are already beginning to build, but with that cynicism balanced by the realistic idealism of the protagonist."
—L. E. Modesitt, Jr., author of The Saga of Recluce series
“Crammed into this relatively short book are dozens of nifty, gee-whiz-cool-future geegaws that would make any science fiction lover swoon.”
About the Author
Top customer reviews
Many of the characters are on the autism spectrum or have other disabilities (including "obsessive-compulsive hacking" as a registered disability. People text and brainstream and talk to each other seamlessly in multiple registers while simultaneously paying attention to and being broadcast by their "toybox" holo-internet devices. The protagonist, Jenny, starts out as a college freshman and starts to develop political awareness and question the privilege she has and many fundamental structures of her homeworld.
I love the complexity and depth of Slonczewski's dystopian vision of the future. It's a very exciting book!
The Highest Frontier did not disappoint! It had all the highly biological and social science fiction that one expects from Slonczewski, plenty of nods to current issues, as well as a certain flavor that is reminiscent of Heinlein juveniles, but without their sexism.
I hope there will be a sequel!
This elegant lady writes hard sf that recalls the joy of Heinlein, only here the science is more life science with computers. Like Phil Dick, the new ideas dazzle, some spelled-out and a few just stated - like a post-virtualist in 200 years, when Castro and the Kennedy brothers are less than brand new.
There is a heavily drawn Dick Cheney figure, but I suspect he'd chuckle at the portrait of parties, media and politicians. It's 200 years from now, but an Obama primary win did not reverse the rise of oceans, but neither did a ban on combustion, while a stated reform of housing did not seem to work in a Westchester suburb where kudzu uses everything as trellises but idealistic kids want to re-open the reform because it's still segregated.
The anthrax makeover (weapon into super strong structures) is neat, but then so is another HIV and hepatitis Q. Homeworld Security and "my room mate is a space alien" plus the Cheney figure set off a really neat newly imagined alien life chemistry.
When asked if a space alien, or an android, could be admitted to a college, the admissions director checks the application form to see if applicants were asked any such question. Maybe it's just me, but Justice O'Connor and the dangling chads came to mind, just after an admiring chuckle at academic politics (voters were instructed to recheck their cards, and start over for dangles, obviating the need to guess later). The bureaucratic answer, after aliens and androids passed college admission as a Turing test, still makes me chuckle.
And then there's teaching - some fresh persons reading Aristotle, Life Science 101 in killer VR with re-writing genes in the lab, a Teddy Rosevelt course that works because a college president still lives and loves his senior paper, and a survey of Cuban history that never gets to Castro or how the Governor of the State of Cuba ran for president.
And the tiny elephants with donkey tails are worthy of Margaret Atwood.
Most recent customer reviews
For adult reader the characters are a bit too Harry Potteriish, fine story still.