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Spear of Light (The Glittering Edge) Paperback – June 7, 2016
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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“Spear of Light exceeds my already high expectations for a Brenda Cooper novel. The exploration of what makes us human shines through this entertaining read.”
—J. A. Pitts, author of Black Blade Blues
“I loved Brenda Cooper’s Philip K. Dick Award–nominated novel Edge of Dark, but the follow-up, Spear of Light, is even better. Cooper pits human against post-human and brilliantly reveals the best and worst of her characters. This is a fascinating, well-realized world.”
—Patrick Swenson, author of The Ultra Thin Man
“Spear of Light wraps a gripping thriller around a cosmic mystery and makes you care deeply about the characters caught up in it all.”
—James L. Cambias, author of Corsair and A Darkling Sea
PRAISE FOR EDGE OF DARK:
“Fascinating…. Edge of Dark is worth reading for a unique vision of artificial intelligences…and Cooper gives you a lot to think about.”
“Incisive, challenging, and brilliant… it’s a story that explores the “what ifs” in beautiful, dazzling fashion.”
“The characters...are sharply drawn, and the plot is full of action and deep insight into the future of human society as it takes to the stars. An entertaining, thoughtful novel.”
“Just terrific… Full of profound questions about what it means to be human, a confidence that technological development will continue even as humans themselves long for more nature… thrilling.” ―Futurist.com
About the Author
Brenda Cooper is the author of Edge of Dark, Book One of The Glittering Edge; The Creative Fire and The Diamond Deep, Books One and Two of Ruby's Song; and the The Silver Ship series. She is the author of Mayan December and has collaborated with Larry Niven (Building Harlequin's Moon). Cooper is a working futurist and a technology professional with a passionate interest in the environment.
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The Next, as the transhumans are known, are seen as a threat to human beings by many, while at the same time, many humans volunteer for the painful and sometimes fatal process of becoming Next. There’s political intrigue, violence, romance and after four novels, a carefully developed society, but “Spear of Light” (which may be the end of The Glittering Edge series, but may not) just doesn’t click. There’s a major reveal at the end which comes pretty much out of nowhere, solving a puzzle that seemed secondary to the main themes, but otherwise the book simply ends rather than concludes.
All in all, the four novels based in this society are all over the map. For example, one is a thinly disguised version of Eva Peron’s life which has little to do with the themes explored in “The Edge of Dark” and “Spear of Light,” which are a long way from “Diamond Deep,” the first book. My advice: Check “Diamond Deep” out of the library and see how much you like it – and then go from there.
Final verdict? Bland, generic scifi with a last-second twist that is horribly out of place considering the overall tone of the prose.
That aside, I did enjoy it. It was not terribly difficult to pick up at least the generalities of what had taken place in the previous book. I didn't have all the details I'm sure, but I felt I had enough to get by on. It is likely I would have enjoyed it more if I had read the previous book, an error I intend to correct now that I have finished Spear of Light.
I ordered this because a programmer friend and I talk a lot about the singularity and what it will mean for our species. We both thought this sounded like an interesting approach to the subject.
The transhumans (post-humans here) are called the Next and they have downloaded themselves into robots. Even their ships can flow into new shapes. They are very advanced.
They have been previously banished from the system and when they reappear, humans find themselves helpless to resist their encroachment on the planet's surface. This causes problems for the humans who were put in the position of agreeing to their demands (as if they had a choice).
That is the conflict at the heart of the story, that between Next and human and human and human. Charlie Windar, a ranger, is now a target of those who oppose the Next and he finds himself unfairly blamed for the big city they are building in what was their pristine wilderness. There are numerous other characters, including Nona Hall, who knows Charlie from the first book.
The chapters alternate perspectives, beginning with Charlie, moving on to Nona, and then on to others, so you get a wide range of perspectives as the story unfolds, which I think helpful. My only complaint is the shortness of the chapters. It makes it difficult to get a grip on what is going on before the perspective suddenly shifts. It may have been an artifact of not reading the previous book but I felt it took me longer to get a handle on the characters as well.
All in all I thought it a good story, not great. The author has talent, no doubt though I would have liked more description, to better be pulled into the environment. I didn't think it terribly immersive. When things are so alien, I think more description is necessary. I will even tolerate the occasional info-dump for a good cause in a story like this.
I do recommend it. It is something different and it doesn't involve massive space battles (not that there is anything wrong with that!) but a change of pace is welcome, as are new voices in SciFi.