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Winner of the Hugo Award
Four time Hugo Award winner Vernor Vinge has taken readers to the depths of space and into the far future in his bestselling novels A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky. Now, he has written a science-fiction thriller set in a place and time as exciting and strange as any far-future world: San Diego, California, 2025.
Robert Gu is a recovering Alzheimer's patient, cured by modern medicine after years of a near-fatal decline. As he struggles to make his was in a much-changed world, where a new information age in which the virtual and the real are a seamless continuum has taken over the world, he unwittingly becomes part of a wide-ranging conspiracy to use technology as a tool for world domination.
With one foot in the present, and the other one sliding into an uncertain future, Vinge offers a story of the potential joys and hazzards that accompany our rapidly changing relationship to technology and the world. This is science fiction at its very best, by a master storyteller at his peak.
"In the near future, the European Center for Defense against Disease discovers a diabolical pseudomimivirus. Rather than set off a panic, secret agents of the EU, Japan, and India work clandestinely to uncover a conspiracy seemingly based in a San Diego lab. Former poet Robert Gu, a recovering Alzheimer's patient (one of the lucky few who took to all the treatments), returns to school just as agents Braun, Vaz, and Mitsuri put their wheels in motion. Immensely frustrated by simultaneously living with his son's family and completely reeducating himself, Gu becomes a perfect dupe for the hacker hired by the gang of spooks. Under cover of a library protest, Gu and some old friends get into the lab, trailed by one of Gu's adolescent classmates and his granddaughter. The conspiracy runs deep and has some terrifying implications on account of YGBM (you gotta believe me) technology, regardless of the conspirators' intentions. The near future is less alien here than in some of Vinge's other work, but no less fascinating and well constructed."—Regina Schroeder, Booklist
"Set in San Diego, Calif., this hard SF novel from Hugo-winner Vinge offers dazzling computer technology . . . Circa 2025, people use high-tech contact lenses to interface with computers in their clothes. "Silent messaging" is so automatic that it feels like telepathy. Robert Gu, a talented Chinese-American poet, has missed much of this revolution due to Alzheimer's, but now the wonders of modern medicine have rehabilitated his mind. Installed in remedial classes at the local high school, he tries to adjust to this brave new world, but soon finds himself enmeshed in a somewhat quixotic plot by elderly former University of California-San Diego faculty members to protest the destruction of the university library, now rendered superfluous by the ubiquitous online databanks. Unbeknownst to Robert, he's also a pawn in a dark international conspiracy to perfect a deadly biological weapon."—Publishers Weekly