The heavy SF action begins in 2400. Space-going humanity is the latest of many civilizations to be baffled by the impenetrable Kefahuchi Tract; that vast stellar region where an unshielded singularity makes physics itself unreliable. Along its accessible fringe, the "Beach", solar systems are littered with crazy, abandoned devices used to probe the Tract since before life began on Earth. A whole dead-end culture is based on beachcombing this rubble of industrial archaeology...
25th-century characters include a woman who's sacrificed almost everything to merge with the AI "mathematics" of a crack military spacecraft; a former daredevil who once surfed black holes but has retreated into a virtual reality tank; the lady proprietor of the Circus of Pathet Lao, with an alien freakshow and a hidden agenda; and a variety of raunchy, smelly, gene-sculpted lowlife, some comic, some menacing. Many are not what they seem.
Meanwhile in 1999 London, physicists Kearney and Tate--remembered in 2400 as the fathers of interstellar flight--are getting nowhere. Kearney's personal problems occupy familiar Harrison territory: urban paranoia, a seedily unreliable guru, bad sex, guilty rituals to propitiate a metaphysical-seeming threat called the Shrander--a pursuing image out of nightmare. In the lab, both Kearney and Tate fear the increasing quantum strangeness of their results.
The cosmological wonders and hazards of the Beach form a backdrop to space pursuits and violent skirmishes whose duration is measured in nanoseconds, reported in tensely lyrical prose. Eventually everything comes together as it should--even that oppressive 1999 story strand--with revelations, transformation, transcendence, and ultimate hope. Harrison demands your full attention and rewards it richly. --David Langford --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
M. John Harrison's Light is indescribable. A mind-warping romp that exists somewhere in the continuum between hard SF and cyberpunk. Read morePublished on Nov. 18 2003 by Abigail Nussbaum
If you like Banks, MacLeod, Mieville, Vinge, McAuley, Stephenson and Gibson, you should read this. As good or better as any of their best. Read morePublished on Oct. 5 2003 by Andy
Imagine if you will, turning on your high pressure garden hose only to find you havent got control of it. Read morePublished on Oct. 4 2003 by MR M T Payton
I'm afraid I found this book a slight disappointment. If I was a newcomer to SF I might be more impressed, but I've read much better SF before... Read morePublished on Aug. 15 2003 by C. I. Black
LIGHT by M John Harrison marks a return for this author to science fiction of a genre type - it's a big, thrill-packed space opera that delivers on all the promise of his long-ago... Read morePublished on July 23 2003 by Leigh Blackmore