The Secret of Life and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Have one to sell?
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Secret of Life Mass Market Paperback – May 19 2002


See all 3 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition
"Please retry"
Mass Market Paperback
"Please retry"
CDN$ 46.54 CDN$ 0.01

Join Amazon Student in Canada


NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; First Edition edition (May 19 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076534193X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765341938
  • Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.9 x 3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,938,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
All human life is here. Read the first page
Explore More
Concordance
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Excerpt | Back Cover
Search inside this book:

Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
-----------------------------------------------------------
Rating: "A-". A stirring saga of science, Mars, and life, marred by a
weak ending, but well-worth your attention.
Paul McAuley's usual topics and tropisms are well-employed in
this new biotech SF-thriller. In 2026 a Martian microbe, secretly
brought back to Earth by a Chinese expedition, is accidentally
released into the Pacific during an attempt to steal a sample by
Cytex, a powerful but unscrupulous American biotech firm. The
Mars-bug thrives, and grows into strange floating islands, which
shed 'slicks' that kill terrestrial marine life. The descriptions of
this strange alien invader are reminiscent of Ian McDonald's
wonderful _Chaga_, with a nod to H.G. Wells' _War of the
Worlds_. I'm not fully-qualified to judge McCauley's biologic
premise (and MacGuffin), which it wouldn't be fair to reveal, but
he's done his homework -- I'm weaselling here because of a
research lapse I'll mention a bit later, but rest assured his premise
is just fine for fiction. Is there a biologist in the house?
The Americans send an expedition of their own to Mars, hoping
to duplicate the Chinese discovery. The expedition scientists
include Mariella Anders, our protagonist and a biological genius
on the level of a Feynman or an Einstein. Like most geniuses
(genii?), she is unconventional: Mariella's foibles include body-
piercing, soft drugs, and rough sex. This last is used for blackmail
by Penn Brown, an odious Cytex scientist also on the Mars
expedition.
Mariella is a high point of the book, and McCauley's best
character yet, I think.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ok, I'm not actually done with the book, but even as an avid reader, I found it hard to get started with this book. The most annoying thing is his style of writing everything in the present tense. (example: She SAYS, " How are you doing?", instead of She SAID, "How are you doing"? He WALKS to the curb, instead of He WALKED to the curb.) A fine point, to be sure, but YOU try reading like that for hundreds of pages. If it doesn't grab me in the next fifty, I'm done.
UPDATE: I actually did finish, but wish I'd given up like I said I would. The pacing stinks, the charaters are launched around from location to location seemingly at random intervals, and that lousy use of tenses continued to bug me. Unless you are a hardcore fan of this writer and his style, I would avoid it like grim death.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Format: Mass Market Paperback
About a decade into the future, the United Kingdom and much of the world struggles to recover from the Infowar that erased most computer records. Needing a sense of security people turn to extreme right-wing elements to run the government. Leaders vow to cleanse society of pornography and related violence. To succeed on their quest to destroy the obscene, the Autonomous Distributed Expert Surveillance System (ADESS), a network of security cameras controlled by an artificial intelligent computer, is developed.

Not everyone acquiesces to the new world order. For instance London student Sophie Booth provides live performances in her apartment almost daily for her loyal following via her webcams. However, in front of her camera, someone wearing a Thatcher mask enters her abode and kills Sophie. Detested and scorned by his peers for alleged cowardly acts during the Infowar, "exiled" Police Detective John investigates the murder. The case should be obvious, but every new clue leads to a zillion questions and several dead ends and detours.

The key element to WHOLE WIDE WORLD is the chilling reality that this type of surveillance is here today even without a growing AI presence. The story line smoothly blends science fiction that feels more like science into a strong, old fashioned who-done-it starring an anti-hero with a lot on his plate besides the inquiries. All this turns into a strong suspense filled novel while Paul McAuley furbishes a convincing "warning" that will delight fans of science fiction mystery.

Harriet Klausner
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.
Format: Mass Market Paperback
How could the guy who wrote the books of Confluence - Ancients of Days etc., have penned this stinker? Why do all English Caucasian male
SF authors write from a female heroine narrative? I swear that the last ten books I have read by English White male SF authors
could have been written from the same generic template.
McAuley goes one better - we actively dislike the STANDARD FEMALE
HERO. She takes drugs, sleeps around with darn near anything and her closest friends are a lesbian couple who have "their own"
daughter via implantation. How PC!!!The Flight Engineer of the crew to Mars is a college and state football hero, mandatory brown skin, who "habitually wears a baseball cap turned sideways" with a "PH.D in the esoteric
mathematics of eighteen dimensional space" -you know how relevant
rappers are in advanced math! When I read this I almost fell out
of bed laughing. Why do we always have this racist drivel pumped out by male caucasian SF writers? Ursula Leguinn can handle
a variety of skin tones and biological makeups that have
dignity and value and dimension -this seemingly escapes her male
contemporaries.
If I wanted to read some standard politically correct,I am a modern kind of accepting-guy crap, I would venture to the new age section of the bookstore and not the Science Fiction section.
When the book is not offending you with two dimensional half-wit
characters, McAuley seems to be offering some mystical, cloudy,
objection to Dawkins et al, perspective on evolutionary genetics
without ever actually saying what the alternative might be, outside of some kind of 'holistic' approach. Please, Paul, stick to space operas -you really shine there, but lighten up on the Politically Correct crap - we are all getting very tired of cartoon characters.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again.

Product Images from Customers

Most recent customer reviews

Search


Feedback