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.