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Having completed the Books of Confluence, his much-praised trilogy set in the distant future, Clarke and Dick awards winner McAuley (Shrine of Stars) here tries his hand at a near-future, hard-science thriller. The year is 2026, and the world is still recovering from the Firstborn Crisis, a virus that threatened humanity's continued existence until it was stopped by a team led by the brilliant biologist Dr. Mariella Anders. Now, however, a new plague has appeared a strange growth in the waters of the Pacific containing genetic material that apparently originated on Mars. With two other crack scientists, Mariella is sent to the red planet, where she soon discovers that one of her colleagues, an employee of Cytex, the genetic engineering company that's partially funding the mission, knows considerably more about what's going on than she does and has motives that are far from altruistic. Indeed, it eventually becomes clear that a number of private companies, governments and radical green organizations all want a piece of the strange Martian lifeform called the Chi. The author's main targets are corporate greed and left-wing Luddism, both of which he sees as antithetical to good science. Mariella, a misfit who, despite her fame, lives in a trailer in the Arizona desert and has a passion for both piercings and rough sex, is a thorny but believable protagonist. Although not quite the equal of his Confluence novels, McAuley's latest should appeal to fans of thoughtful hard-science fiction.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
In 2026 Earth is troubled by the usual mixture of corruption, big business, and twisted technology, but life goes on for biologist Mariella Anders. Her holistic approach, piercings, and blue jeans alienate some of her peers, but her brilliant solution to a worldwide fertility crisis can't be denied. When tapped to go to Mars to investigate rumors that the Chinese have discovered life at its poles, she goes with an adversary, scientist Penn Brown, who represents the conglomerate Cytex. Brown is to make sure Mariella doesn't pass the discovery (and attendant profits) on to NASA. The mission is tense and politicized, but things really go awry when the Chinese on Mars send a distress call concerning a deadly virus. Penn and Mariella struggle over the U.S. response but must really run the gauntlet when they return to Earth with Martian ice samples. McAuley thumps the pulpit for science and reason but always leaves room for the shrewd, passionate, ultimately hopeful human face in this vital contribution to Martian sf. Roberta Johnson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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. Read morePublished on July 18 2002 by Amazon Customer
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. Read morePublished on April 30 2002 by Harriet Klausner
I am amazed at the short memory of many professional reviewers. Many seem to think that this is a major change of direction for McAuley, a deliberate turn to the more commercial. Read morePublished on Nov. 21 2001 by flying-monkey
A real plodder. Too much "2d human values" vs spirited Joan of Arc stuff. Not enough wow/insight/future-shock/smart-tech. Read morePublished on Oct. 9 2001 by Bibi
Winner of the Arthur C. Clarke and Philip K. Dick Awards, McAuley ("Confluence Trilogy") sets "The Secret of Life" in 2026, when global warming has submerged... Read morePublished on Aug. 20 2001 by Lynn Harnett
This near term hard science fiction novel covers a lot of territory, the politics of science being one of them, Paul McAuley is a scientist so he illuminates some of the... Read morePublished on Aug. 19 2001 by Kevin Spoering
Having read - and thoroughly enjoyed - the Confluence trilogy, I picked up Secret of Life without even scanning it. Read morePublished on July 24 2001
I got halfway through the book before giving up on it. If you want to read different philosophies of scientific direction and human behavior, this is the book for you. Read morePublished on June 23 2001 by Amazon Customer