In her debut novel, the terrific thriller Spin State
, Chris Moriarty melds cutting-edge science with post-cyberpunk fiction and neo-noir suspense to create a complex, believable future inhabited by one of the most intriguing characters in modern science fiction.
Major Catherine Li is a veteran United Nations Peacekeeper in a future of world-nations. Humanity has spread across interstellar space by "jumping": teleportation enabled by quantum physics and a bizarre crystal found only on Compson's World. The jumps destroy memory, so jumpers back up their memories on computer. Despite this precaution, frequent jumpers still lose some memories, a fact that poses a far greater problem for Catherine Li than it does for other Peacekeepers. For Li has a dangerous, potentially deadly secret: she's an illegal clone.
When a UN mission goes awry, Li finds herself shipped on solo duty to Compson's World--her home world, to which she'd vowed never to return. Her mission initially seems simple: to determine if the death of brilliant physicist Hannah Sharifi was a crystal-mining accident or cold-blooded murder. Like Li, Sharifi is a clone--in fact, she's Li's genetic twin. Li swiftly finds herself enmeshed in the intertangled politics of the UN, the multiplanetary corporations, the miners, and the human-created Artificial Intelligences, who have enigmatic agendas of their own. --Cynthia Ward
From Publishers Weekly
Despite incorporating nearly every well-worn SF theme, Moriarty still manages fresh insights into humanity-and posthumanity-in this highly atmospheric debut, a hefty far-future exploration of AI, human cloning, class conflict and plain old-fashioned murder. Major Catherine Li and her fellow UN Peacekeepers battle hive-minded Syndicate genetic constructs for domination of planets settled through FTL (faster than light) migrations enabled by mysterious crystals, quantum-level anomalies of unimagined substance mined only on Compson's World. Resembling the Victorian British empire, the UN's vast interstellar commercial empire runs on the blood and sweat of a few thousand pitifully exploited miners like Li's father, who died so she could remake herself and escape the miners' fate. Now wired into "streamspace" with an AI lover who interacts with her through both male and female hosts, Li is tapped to investigate the murder of physicist Hannah Sharifi, her cloned twin who hoped to share the crystals' power. Based on the short, dangerous life of miners as well as the heady scientific stuff of quantum physics, the book can be heavy slogging for the uninitiated. Moriarty effectively postulates the Faustian price of enhancing humanity with silicon, of playing God through genetic manipulation. Beneath this complex tale ominously simmers Orwell's question: If all animals are to be equal, what can prevent some from making themselves more equal than the others?
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