To Hold Infinity Hardcover – Sep 5 2006
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From Publishers Weekly
First published to acclaim in the U.K. in 1998, Meaney's debut novel brings a bright lights/big city sensibility to the normally streetwise milieu of advanced neuro-tech. Like an SF Jay McInerney, Meaney (Paradox) portrays the vast social chasm on planet Fulgar from the viewpoint of Tetsuo Sunadomari, a gate-crasher to the perpetual party of its tech toy–ridden upper class. Picking the wrong data pocket sends Tetsuo into exile in the hypozone, the planet's unterraformed area and home of the Shadow People underclass. Yoshiko, his mother, investigates her son's disappearance with the help of Fulgari glitterati like Vin and Lori Maximilian. Mixing her biology background and martial arts training with Fulgari tech, Yoshiko becomes bait to trap the cyber serial killer responsible for Tetsuo's fugitive status. Meaney offers haiku poetry and Eastern philosophy as Yoshiko's counter to the materially wealthy but spiritually poor Fulgari elite. Unfortunately, the number of plot coincidences suggests he was seeking an old Greek/Roman device instead, the deus ex machina. (Sept.)
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About the Author
John Meaney is the author of four novels——To Hold Infinity, Paradox, Context, and Resolution, the latter three titles comprising his critically-acclaimed Nulapeiron Sequence. He also has numerous short-fiction publication credits. His novelette "Sharp Tang" was short-listed for the British Science Fiction Association Award in 1995. His novella "The Whisper of Disks" was included in the 2003 edition of The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Twentieth Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois. His novella "The Swastika Bomb" was reprinted in The Best Short Science Fiction Novels of the Year (2004), edited by Jonathan Strahan. His story "Diva’s Bones" was reprinted in The Year’s Best Fantasy 5, edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer. Meaney has a degree in physics and computer science, and holds a black belt in Shotokan Karate. He lives in England. Visit his website at www.johnmeaney.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
All that said, while I found To Hold Infinity interesting -- certainly worth reading -- I thought it more a promising first novel than a book worthy of being shortlisted for the best novel of the year -- any year. There are plenty of neat ideas, and some pretty nice action, and a mostly engaging set of characters. But in addition the plot is a bit too driven by coincidence and convenience. Characters figure things out in unrealistic ways. The love stories are almost perfunctory. The nasty villain is an interesting creation, but his comeuppance is terribly underplayed, quite unsatisfying. There is some fairly pointless technobabble. And the book is a great deal too long.
The story concerns a colony world, Fulgar, partly terraformed, on which a very high tech society has developed. The key to the society is an elite group called Luculenti, people who have been technologically enhanced by the addition of plexcores, artificial brains, in a sense. There seems to be some social stratification as a result -- an interesting aspect of this society that is unfortunately underexplored. One of the leading Luculenti is Rafael Garcia de la Vega, but he is a psychopath, who has exploited some new technology to become a sort of mind vampire, capable of sucking the memories and personality of other Luculenti into his own illegally expanded set of plexcores. He concentrates on beautiful and talented women.
Rafael has sponsored an immigrant from Earth, Tetsuo Sunadomari, an expert on the mu-space tech that Rafael uses illegally, for upgrade to Luculentus status. But naïve Tetsuo has stumbled across some explosive information, hinting at corruption within the quasi-police force of Fulgar, the TacCorps. Tetsuo manages to escape to the unterraformed parts of Fulgar, where he falls in with a group devoted, it seems, to preservation of Fulgar in a more natural state.
At the same time Tetsuo's mother, Yoshiko, is coming to Fulgar to visit her son, still mourning her husband's untimely death. She is quickly "adopted," in a sense, by a Luculentus family. Through her eyes we get a view of the fairly interesting Luculentus society. But before long, Rafael intrudes and, somewhat improbably, Yoshiko perceives his villainous nature. And Rafael's latest mind rape is witnessed by Yoshiko, leading to the climax, in which she makes a daring attempt to trap him. All along, Tetsuo and his new friends are working away on what should be quite interesting projects, which come, in the final analysis, to nothing.
So -- there are lots of potentially neat aspects to this book. It certainly shows a writer worth watching. But I can't say that the promise displayed is in quite realized here.
Yoshiko refuses to go home as encouraged or sit around idly waiting for harm to come to her son. She begins to investigate and soon learns why her child hastily raced into self-exile as she too uncovers a conspiracy of tech contraband trafficking led by the charming techno leader Rafael Garcia de la Vega. She plans to prove her son is innocent and to confront this charismatic Luculentus though Yoshiko is now the target of her son's enemies.
This an exciting science fiction mystery in which the audience will appreciate that the world of Fulgar seems genuine with its three prime tier society: Luculentus, other earthling techs, and the outcasts; in fact the Luculentus serves as an alien species though what they are actually is enhanced humans. The story line for the most part is fast-paced especially as the audience anticipates the showdown between the good guy and his mom vs. the more powerful bad dude. However, the inclusion of programming somewhat slows down the thriller (not used frequently) even as this technique also adds to the feel of a future technological realm. Readers will enjoy this exhilarating tale that extrapolates today's biological nanotechnology into a delightful story.
I'll write a more relevant review of this work when I've finished reading it - however don't expect the review to be a particularly objective literary critique as I have very much enjoyed all of Meaney's books that I've read thus far including the first of the Nulapeiron trilogy and the Blood series (I bought the last in the trilogy twice because they were published with different names!). I suspect I will overlook this particular book's shortcomings, view it as yet another clue in the ever-enlarging body of work/ever-larger puzzle that Meaney appears to be offering to us to sort out, and simply enjoy it.
She also gets to employ her kung fu skills in the process.