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Spin State Mass Market Paperback – Nov 23 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; Reprint edition (Nov. 23 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553586246
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553586244
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 2.7 x 17.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #365,304 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Despite incorporating nearly every well-worn SF theme, Moriarty still manages fresh insights into humanity-and posthumanity-in this highly atmospheric debut, a hefty far-future exploration of AI, human cloning, class conflict and plain old-fashioned murder. Major Catherine Li and her fellow UN Peacekeepers battle hive-minded Syndicate genetic constructs for domination of planets settled through FTL (faster than light) migrations enabled by mysterious crystals, quantum-level anomalies of unimagined substance mined only on Compson's World. Resembling the Victorian British empire, the UN's vast interstellar commercial empire runs on the blood and sweat of a few thousand pitifully exploited miners like Li's father, who died so she could remake herself and escape the miners' fate. Now wired into "streamspace" with an AI lover who interacts with her through both male and female hosts, Li is tapped to investigate the murder of physicist Hannah Sharifi, her cloned twin who hoped to share the crystals' power. Based on the short, dangerous life of miners as well as the heady scientific stuff of quantum physics, the book can be heavy slogging for the uninitiated. Moriarty effectively postulates the Faustian price of enhancing humanity with silicon, of playing God through genetic manipulation. Beneath this complex tale ominously simmers Orwell's question: If all animals are to be equal, what can prevent some from making themselves more equal than the others?
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Vivid, sexy, and sharply written...a nonstop, white-knuckle tour of quantum physics, artificial intelligence, and the human heart."—Nicola Griffith

"A spiky, detailed, convincing, compelling page-turner, and the science is good too. Chris Moriarty is a dangerous talent."—Stephen Baxter

"Action, mystery and drama, set against some of the most plausible speculative physics I’ve seen."—David Brin

"Highly atmospheric ... a hefty far-future exploration of AI, human cloning, class conflict and plain old-fashioned murder."—Publishers Weekly

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This novel starts strongly, by showing us a glimpse of a 'posthuman' world where people backup their memories and where AIs can hijack ("shunt") human beings for a joyride. The protagonist is a strong, tough female, suggesting a welcome change to other SF male leads.
Unfortunately, the novel quickly devolves into a 'whodunnit?' about a scientist murdered in a coal mine. It's a bit sad that such interesting hard SF concepts such as quantum teleportation, 'spinstream' and Emergent AIs are presented through a very ho-hum, run-of-the-mill detective story, and this is what makes 'Spin State' so frustrating to read.
It gets better after roughly half of the novel, but the novel never really exceeds the awesome potential that it seemed to have. Whereby it could have been a gritty 'Snow Crash' set in space, it ends up being a detective story with a space opera backdrop.
If you're looking for a crime novel, skip this because it doesn't offer anything beyond clichés such as characters cryptically helping the protagonist along for convoluted reasons. If you're curious about intriguing new SF concepts, then it's worth to go through this book regardless of the detective story.
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Format: Paperback
To be fair, I read this immediately following "Pandora's Star" by Peter F. Hamilton, by all accounts a tough act to follow.
I've also read Richard Morgan's fantastic Takeshi Kovacs novels, which Moriarity seems heavily influenced by.
Chris(tine?) Moriarity, however, is no Richard Morgan, which is demonstrated by the following failings evidenced by Spin State:
1. From a prurient standpoint, Moriarity tackles violence and sex in a far more restrained manner than Morgan--which is one large component of what makes Altered carbon so visceral. That the author toned down these elements gave the book a cartoonish aspect. Though I wasn't adverse to the books' one lesbian scene, albeit poorly described.
2. the characters seem to blur together, only to pop up and perform an action to jumpstart the ailing plot line. Although the book's antagonists are equally vile, they never really take on distinct form.
3. the poor male stereotypes in the book: the sadist, the stupid innocent, the charming manipulator (a couple of these). The author's opinions of mankind are verified with the female protagonist's choice of a mate at the conclusion of the book.
I wasn't sure if the author was female or not, due to the unisex "Chris" but these negative characterizations of men were a large clue and a big turn off.
All this is not to say I wasn't entertained by the book to a degree, though at times it felt like work, but all and all I was disappointed. I feel that Moriarity (must be contrived, the Sherlock Holmes villain, please...) has trespassed on sacred ground, that is the last sanctuary safe from the PC/multicultural blight that besets our age, the world of speculative fiction.
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Format: Paperback
"Spin State" starts out full of promise for fans of "hard" sci-fi, the sub-genre that loads stories with lots of plausible technology and science. It is a good debut novel. However, after a solid beginning that has the reader's mind racing to keep to pace, the book backs away from its potential, dragging on far too long before concluding in a rather predictable and unsatisfying manner.
It is clear that Moriarty has done her homework on quantum mechanics. This is one of the only sci-fi books I've read that supplies a bibliography of dozens of academic papers and books on the subject. She writes convincingly about a quantum-based communications system that is one step shy of actual teleportation -- even sensations like taste and temperature are conveyed through the magic of quantum entanglement.
Other cool features of Moriarty's far-out future include urbane yet shadowy AIs, hardware enhancements for the body, mind and memory, and people who have had their genetic makeup so radically altered that they aren't legally considered to be human any longer.
Although this theme of genetics is supposed to be central to the development of the main character, I felt the theme was never really fleshed out. Indeed, perhaps the book's greatest flaw is that most of the characters -- with the exception of the AI called Cohen -- come across as two- or even one-dimensional. The main character is a decorated commando running from a murky past. We meet a greedy and corrupt mine boss, a manipulative and ruthless general, a selfish and naive beauty, and a selfless and brilliant scientist. Not many surprises.
There are quite a few similarities between this work and "Altered Carbon" by Richard Morgan.
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Format: Paperback
This book had a lot of interesting ideas, settings and characters but ultimately I felt that it fell a little bit short of its true potential. The writing style and characterizations at times reminded me of another new piece of sci-fi, Altered Carbon, a reminder that I felt was unfortunate, since overall this was a much better work. There were some truly novel technologies and concepts that I wish had been described and explored in more detail. The author obviously did his homework, based on the list of textbooks and articles referenced in the endnotes, but perhaps he (or his editor?) was worried about getting too technical and scaring off readers? Its a shame becuase quantum computing and communication are cutting edge topics that I haven't seen addressed in much detail in any other current science fiction (and obviously not older classics). The other frustration was with the pace. So much went on in the middle 300 pages that was ultimately just backfill. And then, the ending felt rushed. But in contrast to another reviewer, I found the last 20-30 pages to be some of the best. And when I finished I found myself thinking for several hours/days afterwards about the revelations. So, like I said, this was good sci-fi, I just wish it had been better. Hopefully the author will return to this setting in future works.
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