Red Dust Paperback – Nov 1995
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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.
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.See all Product Description
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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.