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Red Dust [Paperback]

Paul J. McAuley
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

November 1995
Transformed into a reluctant deity by a viral kiss, former Contract Agronomist Technician Wei Lee is set adrift in a terraformed world of cowboys, tribal Yankees, and feral children, appointed to be their savior. Reprint. NYT. PW. K.

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From Publishers Weekly

This is not so much a story of character as of place-specifically, the partially terraformed planet of Mars, nearly 600 years in the future. Through a kiss, Wei Lee, an "itinerant agronomist technician," is infected with technoviruses that give him godlike attributes. One of the many side effects of the viruses allows Lee to tune in directly to the broadcasts of "The King of Cats" (Elvis by any other name) as Lee races around the planet, attempting to affect his own destiny and to release the trapped water that will make Mars fertile. During his journeys, Lee is rescued by yak-roping cowboys, meets with mutant dolphins, changes the nature of cyberspace and learns how to act heroically. McAuley (Eternal Light) is most successful in his wonderfully lively technology and in the way he melds the philosophies of the various cultures (Tibetan, Han, Yankee) that populate his Mars. The story bounces so swiftly from cavern to cyberspace that glitz, glitter and intriguing technical puzzles handily conceal the lack of depth; though this makes for a disorienting trip, it also ensures an exhilarating one.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

The early 1990s have witnessed a profusion of Mars-related sf, from Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars (1993) and Green Mars to Greg Bear's terraformation spectacle, Moving Mars (1993). Now one of the brighter lights in a new generation of innovative hard-sf practitioners adds his voice to the Martian forum. Here, after centuries of stifled terraformation efforts, the Martian landscape is reverting to its native red dust, and many of its citizens are voluntarily relinquishing their bodies to merge with a ubiquitous computer mainframe. While contemplating his own future, agronomy technician Wei Lee becomes caught in the cross fire of warring political factions when he rescues a captured female soldier from the enemy asteroid belt. As the devious agenda of his government is exposed, Wei Lee becomes a linchpin in changing the planet's ultimate destiny. McAuley's far-reaching vision comfortably brings together such diverse elements as cloning, nanotechnology, cyberspace, and novel political ideologies. Hard sf at its imaginative best. Carl Hays --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review March 27 2007
Format:Paperback
Despite the science fiction setting Red Dust is basically a quest, with hero Wei Lee seeking to achieve his destiny and discover what happened to his long-lost parents. The story takes place on a Mars colonised by the Chinese, and McAuley depicts this transplanted oriental milieu with style and considerable gusto. There are some striking scenes (Matrix-like fights and Yankee whalers hunting on seas of dust) yet there is not much depth to this imagined world, and Wei Lee is rather too passive to be a convincing hero. Faults notwithstanding, I enjoyed Red Dust and found it an entertaining read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, But Dull At Times Sept. 25 2001
By Kevin Spoering - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Red Dust is a novel of a terraformed Mars set about 600 years into the future. A young man named Lee traverses Mars in an adventure of intrigue, surrounded by events that nearly overwhelm him. A young woman drops from space in a small pod to the surface of Mars carrying special viruses which are really nanotech devices, and she infects Lee with them, starting a chain of events beyond Lee's control and immediate understanding. The plot is complicated with many political groups trying to gain control, with their own agendas....sounds familiar, does'nt it! The novel incorporates a couple of cultural icons from our time, it is interesting how they are revered and distorted in this far flung future.
This novel was copyrighted in 1993 so it is one of the earlier novels to use nantechnology as an integral part of the story. Paul McAuley also portrays an artificial reality in which many people choose to die and go to. McAuley writes, it appears to me, that man still struggles with himself, even 600 years into the future, that prophecy is almost sure to come true as we seem to have an innate ability and desire to fight among ourselves.
McAuley in this novel sometimes writes in a vague and discordant manner, which makes reading a bit difficult at times, and a reader has to pay attention to a lot of details to keep proper track of the plot. Also, I personally feel the novel could have been 30-40 pages shorter, as there are long dull stretches here and there.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My 100-word book review March 27 2007
By A. J. Cull - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Despite the science fiction setting Red Dust is basically a quest, with hero Wei Lee seeking to achieve his destiny and discover what happened to his long-lost parents. The story takes place on a Mars colonised by the Chinese, and McAuley depicts this transplanted oriental milieu with style and considerable gusto. There are some striking scenes (Matrix-like fights and Yankee whalers hunting on seas of dust) yet there is not much depth to this imagined world, and Wei Lee is rather too passive to be a convincing hero. Faults notwithstanding, I enjoyed Red Dust and found it an entertaining read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talk about changing plot lines... Nov. 14 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book took me longer to read that any other recently, mostly because every chapter or so everything seem to change - new characters etc..). Lots to digest - thoroughly enjoyable... J
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Sept. 4 1997
By jmurphy@mail.wdn.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
McAuley combines hard SF detail with an ambitious picaresque tale for a novel that feels unique. Very satisfying
1 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't Bite the (Red) Dust March 13 2000
By T.P. McArdle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
A book about Mars, should be interesting, right? Wrong! This book starts slow, stays slow and coasts to a stop at turtle speed. It takes the reader awhile to catch on to the social and political climate of the solar system since McAuley doesn't straight out tell you until later. Everyone is chasing Wei Lee because he's a threat to their plans. Gee, really exciting! As you can probably tell, there's not much of a plot. I congratulate myself for the willpower to stay with this book for 400 pages without throwing it in the trash. The book is tedious, very tedious. I recommend it only for insomniacs. A sure cure!
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