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Heads [Hardcover]

Greg Bear , Fred Gambino


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Book Description

September 1991
Two hundred years in the future, the Moon is emerging from an age of innocence. Once pioneers, the easiest motto for these Lunar families is 'Cut the Politics'. They think they are safe from the sophistication and corruption of political intrigue. William Pierce is searching for absolute zero. No scientist has succeeded yet, and William is almost there...His wife Rho has bought 410 heads, cryogenically frozen centuries before in the hope of resurrection. She thinks she can read them for information. But there are dangers. William doesn't quite understand that his experiments could distort space and time. Rho doesn't realise that her heads will bring interference from a new and deadly faction, the devotedly religious Logologists. 'Cut the Politics'. But they can't. And the politics of this society could destroy much, much more than Rho and William's work...
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: St Martins Pr; First American Edition edition (September 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312063679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312063672
  • Product Dimensions: 20.8 x 14.2 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 281 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,099,801 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Hard-science-fiction master Bear's ( Queen of Angels ) gem of a novella shines with provocative scientific speculation, well-drawn characters and powerful prose. Mickey Sandoval is a minor administrator in his family's moon-based corporation, supervising accounts on his brother-in-law William's project--an attempt to reach absolute zero, 0 on the Kelvin scale. His mostly routine job becomes rapidly complicated when his sister Rho, William's wife, brings a load of 410 cryogenically frozen heads back with her from earth. Mickey finds her interest in tapping the memories of the long-dead bizarre yet harmless, but suddenly the other industrial families on the moon grow hostile to the project, led by Council President Fiona Task-Felder, a member of the cult of Logology (which bears an unmistakable resemblance to a certain contemporary pseudo-religious movement). Mickey is plunged into high-level political conflicts he cannot handle, stumbling from error to error before Rho's examination of the heads unveils a monumental secret--and explains the Logologists' stake in her project. Readers hungry for the intellectual thrills of traditional science fiction with the literary merits of the best of the genre need look no further.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

YA-- The concept of a future society purchasing 410 cryogenically frozen heads and then probing their minds is the basis of this short novel. Mickey Sandoval, the administrator of a lunar farm station, finds himself involved in a political struggle against a religious group because one of the heads was that of their founder. This is a lean, hard-core science-fiction novel that can be booktalked with success and used by the next-day assignment completion seekers.
- Nora Jane Natke, Riverside City and County Public Library, CA
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.0 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too short July 30 2000
By Robert Ketchum - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I finished reading this book just over a week ago, and I must say the work is lacking. Bear has developed an interesting storyline with wonderful potential that is too rich to be smashed into 151 pages.There is only a superficial attempt at character development which makes the characters one dimensional. This is all very discouraging to the reader, becuase the premise is good sci-fi. In the future there is an independent moon colony originally developed by entrepreneurs. Our heros are a part of the moon elite syndicate of families. They are attempting two aspiring projects. 1)An experiment trying to create absolute zero, purportably able to freeze space-time itself (I'm not sure if this sounds very safe, although the characters seem only moderately concerned). 2)410 cryogenically frozen "Heads" from the 20th century, which will be scanned for memories still intact in their lifeless brains (wierd, but an interesting idea). If this work was stretched into a full length novel, Bear could have created some classic sci-fi, unfortunately he didn't.
I would recommend this book only to die-hard Greg Bear fans.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It had a lot of promise... April 21 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Don't get me wrong. This book had a very good and original premise that could have had a great story made out of it. However, the writing in it is (in my opinion) pretty weak. Besides some fairly interesting history behind it, there is not much else. Also, a lot of the characters seemed pretty one-sided, but I can imagine that's hard to avoid in writing a relatively short story such as this.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Something Different from Greg Bear Jan. 8 2005
By Dr. Christopher Coleman - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I've become quite a Greg Bear fan lately--for Christmas I got both The Forge Of God and Anvil of Stars, and I'd finished both of them by Jan. 5. Delighted with them, I picked up Heads at a local bookstore, although I admit having some doubts about the book after looking at the blurb. It seemed an awful lot to juggle in such a small space--410 cryogenically stored disembodied heads, along with Moon colony politics and an attempt to reach absolute zero which might change the nature of matter and of time itself, all within about 150 pages. At the same time, I've ocasionally thought Bear was a bit too drawn-out, so I decided I'd give it a try.

Curiously enough, spacetime was indeed apparently affected by Heads, because I must have seen the future--I was right, and it was all a bit much to handle in such a short book. By necessity, Bear's writing was much more expository than usual, and I didn't find that very satisfying. The story was promisingly offbeat, but behind the story was a blatant parody of Scientology--now, I'm not a Scientologist, nor do I know any Scientologists and I have a healthy skepticism of any religion founded by a science fiction writer, especially one that espouses Body Thetans--ghosts of an alien civilization--as the source of physical illness. It's a valid target, but somehow I'd like a touch more subtlety, a soupcon of sophistication about it...perhaps that's a bit much to ask of a book titled after decapitated noggins...

At any rate, it's a good story, with an effective and creepy climax...it's merely the baldness of Heads that detracts.
4.0 out of 5 stars Chilly Lunar politics amidst a cryogenic quest Dec 13 2010
By M-I-K-E 2theD - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Synopsis: In the year 2010, post-Boolean three-state logic technology ushers in further quantum logic technology in the seventh decade, which allows the scientists of the lunar Sandoval-Rice communal consortium in the year 2174, or so, to comprehend the data coming from the absolute zero experiment. This collective scientific refrigeration allows for another family member the constitutional right to allow a shipment of `corpsicles' (or frozen heads) to be shipped back to the lunar colony. From this shipment are the heads of the two founding parents of the colony- the current day great-grandmother and father. This acquisition of frozen skulls, including three unknowns, which might be able to be read with other technologies held my other lunar families, stirs up the fury of a religious lunar colony. Thus begins the political debate and silent battle which will embroil the best minds on the moon.

Having read ALL (I repeat, ALL) of Bear's science fiction library to date, Heads is the last book which I have gotten a hold of. Though published in 1990, it has a certain nostalgic theme (cryogenics) of the 1970s like Psyclone (1978) and a progressive drive towards a goal like Blood Music (1985). In the meantime Bear produced great early space opera in his Forge series and The Way series. So, I can see Bear writing retro sci-fi when publishing Heads in 1990 after releasing some operatic science fiction, coming to a more central theme.

Heads starts with a bang, roping in the reader with Triple politics (Mars, Luna and Earth), the quest for absolute zero and the acquisition of the cryogenic heads. The initial one-sixth of the book is a solid lead-in to a prospective greater scope of things to come. However, much of this lead-up is lent to the bubbling caldron of changing Lunar politics, where `politics aside' takes precedence in lunar communal relations. `Politics aside' does not, paradoxically, take priority in this book. The Triple politics takes up a fair chunk of the remaining five-sixths of a plot but the ramifications of the outcome are substantial to the Lunar communal families. The recently-founded religion of Logologists and early-founder K.D. Tierry takes a number of anti-religious hits from the scientific Sandoval-Rice collective, taking one-on-one the religious Task-Felder collective. It gets a fair bit testy at times, especially when the held beliefs are at serious stake.

It is a fairly short read (110 total pages in the British edition) but it is well worth the read. The feel of it all is very obviously pro-science and anti-religion. There is an obvious underpinning foundation of foreshadowing two-thirds of the way through, which any experienced reader can grasp on with the single word of "forced." A good addition to the Bear bibliography.
1.0 out of 5 stars Nor head neither tail April 24 2009
By Jari Aalto - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Mass Market Paperback
A member of powerful trade pact, William, has set a laboratory on the Moon to explore mystery of absolute zero. He needs very expensive equipment. He aims to cool hydrogen atoms to zero degrees to see what happens. A good business opportunity of cryogenically frozen human heads need permanent cooling and are shipped to the Moon to benefit from the residue energy from William's experiment. There are 3 heads that are unknown and tapping the memories could provide even more profitable. All in the sudden the trade pact family is politically attacked from all directions. What are they afraid of?

For hard SF reader, the story has interesting gadgets like quantum logic computer -- self-aware AI thinkers with mental aberrations --, post-Boolean three-state logic invented by Chinese and singularity applied to politics(?). The Moon in the 22nd century is very libertarian: business is the driving force behind everything. The trade clicks seldom interfere to each others' businesses and prefer to deal schisms behind the curtains.

One (1) star. Written in 1990 this an old-fashioned tale about human soul. There are two parallel stories that should somehow connect at the, but the end is forced. The search for absolute zero that is supposed to pluck scientific speculation as well as religious and moral questions in contrast to frozen heads is more like a jab at Scientology. The limited hard science content embedded in the story, as good as it is, cannot do marvels to the thin plot. Abruptly switching from trade politic clicks to hard SF content and family bonds is like rumbling in the forest. A novel that had potential, but lacked leverage.

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