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The Collapsium Mass Market Paperback – Nov 26 2002


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 428 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (Nov. 26 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 055358443X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553584431
  • Product Dimensions: 2.3 x 10.6 x 17.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 227 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,341,595 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is the story of the future and the people who molded it and lived it. Our hero is a genius who invented / worked with a product that is actually a miniaturized black hole. Although the science is a little fuzzy this led to the creation of the greatest of inventions, "The Fax", which could not only send a clone of a person to another location but simultaneously fixed all that was wrong with the copy. In other words, it guaranteed imortality.
The world of the future is a matriarchy with a Virgin Queen (who just happens to love our hero). An arch-villian, a desolute madman with the charms of a playboy, sets on a course that will destroy the Solar System. It sounds outlandish but the way the future is presented, particularly with well stone and the amazing nano-technology (the descriptions are perfect), is truly amazing. The tone and setting "sound" plausible. Especially endearing was the way the hero allowed one robot to develop on his own.
This was an unlikely hit, mostly underground, the story carried by word of mouth. I'd love to see this on the big screen but shudder at the horror that the editors would do - they would butcher the story, reduce it to a royal affair with about as much seriousness as a Mars candy bar. The success of this book generaged another by the author, a sequeal of sorts. I can't wait to find out what happens!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
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Rating: science "A+", fiction "B-" -- a dazzling hard-SF opening fades to melodrama. Worth reading for the opener and the bleeding-edge sci-tech.
The Collapsium opens with a wonderful novella,"Once Upon a Matter Crushed" (first published in SF Age 5/99). In the late 25th century, in the eighth decade of the Queendom of Sol, gravitation and the zero-point field are pretty well understood. "Neubles," diamond-clad neutronium spheres, are in everyday use -- a standard industrial neuble masses a billion tonnes, and has a radius of 2.67 cm. Our Hero, superscientist Bruno de Towaji, is experimenting with collapsium, a dangerous, metastable material made of proton-size black holes, when he receives a Royal Summons: the new near-solar collapsiter ring is unstable, and will fall into the sun (and eat it) unless Something is Done....
The book is written in an engaging neo-Victorian style -- McCarthy's first experiment with literary Style, vs. his previous 'transparent' prose. I liked it. Witty repartee, amusing pratfalls and shrewd insights abound. Bruno meets a well-married couple at a celebrity fund-raiser on Maxwell Montes, Venus: "The love, shyness and exasperation between them radiated out in invisible rays, like infrared. Warming." Befuddled by a bottomless beer mug, Bruno warms to the pitch: "Would, ah, would a hundred trillion dollars be enough?" <beat>
McCarthy's sci-tech extrapolation is exotic, fun and reasonably plausible. He's clearly done his homework -- the book includes 30 pages of appendices, a glossary, technical notes (including the working equations to synthesize neubles), and respectable references. Fun stuff (really!), one of the highlights of the book.
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Format: Hardcover
The Collapsium is a novel of the intermediate future. Many years from now, at least a century and probably more, mankind has machines that can build anything from a pattern, including the human body. Moreover, these facsimile (or fax) machines can be connected to transmitters and receivers to send one or more copies of someone's body pattern to other locations on the planets or in space and then to merge the copies back to a single individual. All illness, injuries, and aging are filtered out of the body pattern during transmission, thereby ensuring effective immorbidity and extreme longevity for everyone.
Now that everyone is planning on living forever and has all the wealth that they can possibly use, mankind has become tired of democracy and individual responsibility, so they have created the Queendom of Sol. Fortunately, one royal personage remains after all the years of slaughtering monarchs to obtain liberty: Princess Tamatra Litui of the tiny kingdom of Tonga. Without asking her opinion on the matter, mankind has elected her Queen of Sol with an overwhelming majority and has carefully ensured that she has responsibilities, obligations and moral authority, but no real power. Furthermore, mankind has decided that she should be the Virgin Queen, but her first official act as Queen was to Censure all involved in forcing the position upon her, then her second act was to ensure that her virginity would be renewed as needed, and her third act was to call for suitors.
In this novel, Bruno de Towaji is a Declarant-Philander; that is, he has been granted the highest honor in the Kingdom for his construction of the Iscog (Inner-System Collapsiter Grid) linking the inner planets and he has been further honored as one of the Queen's consorts.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a sweet little gem of a book that combines good storytelling with wild science that really hangs together quite well.
Since I see so many glowing reviews (and really agree with most of them), let me just tell you what disappointed me about the Collapsium: the story is brilliant and witty as it begins and seems to become less so as it progresses, until at ending (despite saving the solar system several times) our protagonists are roughed up and punished with imposed roles as "fitting rewards" to their efforts.
An interesting comment on the culture created here, but a bit of a downer for this reader.
I enjoyed the craft and storytelling, loved the characters and science, but found an entertaining read becoming too suddenly grim and sad.
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