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February 23rd, 2006 - Phil's Rambling Rants

February 23rd, 2006

February 23rd, 2006
08:30 pm

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Book review: The Cunning Blood
Today's book review is The Cunning Blood by Jeff Duntemann.

Wow.

This is a very impressive novel.  It is extremely ambitious, cramming a whole lot of story into only 360 pages, and taking on some really big ideas.  It is, in fact, probably too much for one book; my head is still spinning and I'm still a mite confused on how some of the pieces fit together.  But it held together well enough to hold my attention in a death grip, and left me with a distinct feeling of disappointment that it was over.  it's a bold SF novel, absolutely crammed with nifty technology, and once you grant a couple of basic assumptions, the technology is believable.  I caught a couple of minor scientific gaffes -- in one case, people hear a supersonic craft coming; in another, we hear about extracting oxygen from fat -- but neither of these get in the way of the plot at all.  In addition to an adventure story that has so many great fights, narrow escapes, and explosions that it would strain Hollywood to fit it into a movie, we have interesting scientific speculation into what nanotechnology could really do; social speculation on a couple of fronts, including the perils of an overprotective government and a novel vision of a working society with drastically more males than females; and some metaphysical speculation that is at least interesting to think about.

Contemplating the novel after finishing it, I have real trouble believing the capabilities he gives his nanotechnology on several levels.  It is not so bogus that it gets in the way of reading the story, but there are enough problems when I look at it critically that I have trouble accepting it as being directly prophetic in terms of either the wonders or the dangers it suggests.

Not perfect, but very good.  If you like hard SF adventure, make the effort to find this book.  Because it's being published by ISFiC (the folks who bring you Windycon) Press, rather than, say, Tor, you aren't likely to find it on the shelf at your local Borders, but it is available on Amazon.  9 out of 10.

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