Spin Control Mass Market Paperback – 1 Jun 2007
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"ÝT¨his richly textured second novel explores issues of identity and loyalty, swapping quantum mechanics for complexity theory and mystery for suspense."--"Publishers Weekly"
"The characters have the complexity of motivation and backstory to make this more than just another dire-future thriller.... Tension-riddled."--"Booklist"
"From the Trade Paperback edition."
" [T]his richly textured second novel explores issues of identity and loyalty, swapping quantum mechanics for complexity theory and mystery for suspense." -- "Publishers Weekly"
" The characters have the complexity of motivation and backstory to make this more than just another dire-future thriller.... Tension-riddled." -- "Booklist"
"From the Trade Paperback edition."
"[T]his richly textured second novel explores issues of identity and loyalty, swapping quantum mechanics for complexity theory and mystery for suspense."--Publishers Weekly
About the Author
Chris Moriarty was born in 1968 and has lived in Europe, Southeast Asia, and Latin America. A former environmental attorney who has also worked as a ranch hand, horse trainer, and backcountry guide, Chris is the author of Spin State and Spin Control.
Top customer reviews
Still going to pick up the third one, though.
"Spin Control" is the immediate sequel to "Spin State", which introduced readers to Moriarity's brilliant, exquisitely-realized future of off-world post-human Syndicates allied against a United Nations comprised of human colonies and an ecologically devestated Planet Earth that is still losing its human population, centuries after a rapid ecological collapse which led to both widespread human immigration from Earth and the mass extinction of many species of animals and plants (I have not yet read "Spin State", but am eagerly looking forward to it.). In "Spin State" readers where introduced to intelligence operative - and AI-enhanced clone - Hyacinthe Cohen and UN Peacekeeper Catherine Li; here in "Spin Control", they have returned, in subordinate roles, as representatives of ALEF (Artificial Life Emancipation Front), in search of one very special prize. His name is Arkady, a "clone with a conscience", a Syndicate myrmecologist (ant ecologist), who arrives on Planet Earth as a survivor of an ill-fated terraforming mission on the Planet Novalis, and a willing defector to the State of Israel with a dangerous, potentially deadly, weapon that could change the fate of humanity; an unknown genetic weapon which he "discovered" by accident on Novalis. However, the Mossad, Israel's Secret Service, claims ample disinterest, offering to bid him to the highest bidder: ALEF, the Palestinians, even the Fundamentalist Protestant religious theocrats now in charge of the United States of America. What will follow - as deftly told by Chris Moriarty in her riveting, almost ornate, yet rather poetic, prose - may determine the future of humanity not only on Planet Earth, but also in interstellar space, and the survival of the post-human Syndicates.
It speculates well on a wide range of topics from posthumanism, kinship relationships for clones (treated more positively and more constructively than Stephen Baxter), the future flexibility of mankind as it exists today in dealing with challenges such as climate change and colonisation. There's vignettes well worth reading in sub topics like the relationship of AI to human (well augmented human).
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I've returned to Chris Moriarty's books after almost a decade and I find them even better the second time. Authors like Alistair Reynolds (Revelation Space) or Hannu Rajaniemi (The Fractal Prince) have deep academic backgrounds in science and mathematics. Chris Moriarty's writing has equal depth in science and scientific ideas, but in her case it seems to be all research for her books. Her plots do not simply parrot the ideas in the articles and books she reads, but reflect thought and synthesis about the ideas and their implications.
The plot of the previous book, Spin State, mainly revolved around Catherine Li, a Major in the UN Peacekeeping force, and Cohen, an artificial intelligence (AI) whose foundation was a long dead man named Hyacinth Cohen. As Cohen remarks in Spin State, we cannot always choose who we love, and Cohen loves Catherine Li, whose background makes loving her like embracing a porcupine. As they say, however, porcupines do manage to make love and in Spin Control Catherine Li and Cohen are married, although the union of a large scale distributed intelligence and a human is unusual.
Although Catherine Li and Cohen play a part in the plot of Spin Control, the major character is Arkady, who is a post human from the Syndicates, a human offshoot that engineer gene lines of creche raised humanity. The plot is interwoven with flashbacks to a Syndicate expedition to a terraformed planet named Novalis. What is actually found on novalis unfolds throughout the story.
Spin State was heavily leavened by quantum physics. Spin Control is more influenced by complexity theory and its reflections in biological systems, like ants.
The only plot line that I struggled with in both Spin State and in Spin Control was the implication of AI. AI can expand by adding new capacity and can evolve by reprogramming itself. In David Zindel's Neverness the AIs become silicon gods. But in the Spin books, Cohen is constrained. The emergence of full sentience is a complex and rare thing and, somehow, it can't be expanded into a vast intelligence. At least not in these books.
An all powerful "ghost in the machine" would probably create a simplistic plot and this may be the reason that Chris Moriarty has danced around the issue of AI evolution. At one point, Cohen's power is limited and he is unable to control events as I would have expected him to do. But this allows the other human and post human characters to work the issues out.
So far Chris Moriarty has written one more science fiction book, Spin Ghost, which I have not read yet, but will read soon. Her most recent books are young adult books (The Inquisitor's Apprentice and The Watcher in the Shadows). As someone who loves Chris Moriarty's edgy hard science fiction books, I am somewhat sad that her life may have moved on to another stage. The Spin books are remarkable. But then we can't be hard edged forever. Although William Gibson did produce The Peripheral, which is a pretty edge book, later in life. So I will hope for future adult books by Chris Moriarty.
But this sequel on the other hand, I loved.
I don't 'agree' with all of the social developments indicated here (I am not an alternative lifestyle individual, for example, but neither do I 'hate' those that are: so my review has no present-day social axe to grind), yet in the context of the book, with the 'genelines', it makes perfect sense and was both fully fleshed out and defended. (Am I being cryptic? Maybe, I don't want to write spoilers. There's an entire overarching survival-of-humanity-in-space story that both explains and even requires differing sociopolicital [generational? genetic? civilizational?] approaches that be in conflict to illuminate the author's ideas.
Yet it's all resting on a seemingly small-scale story of a kind of espionage spy game, the 'defector with a gift' that no one knows whether to trust or not...including the defector himself.
Suffice to say there's good character development, characters from very differing world views and backgrounds in proximity that highlight both their own biases and challenge them (and in the process, through their eyes, some of the reader's assumptions), and a pretty good behind-the-scenes yarn at both the small and the large scale that pulls the carpet out from under your overall plot expectations in the end in a way that I only *thought* I saw coming.
And I also loved the whole sideline discussion of ants and evolution, as I've personally also always been fascinated by although not educated about ants.
Definitely read Spin State first as an introduction, although the plot events in this volume stand alone (in some ways very much so...whatever happened with the condensates??), it will help.
I think the author's third volume is available soon, and I am definitely looking forward to it based on the growth from the first to second volume.
Just for context to compare this opinion against, some of my other favorite SF authors are Alastair Reynolds, Iain M. Banks, the non-brother-Gregories (Benford and Bear), Stephen Baxter, David Brin (there's sure a lot of "B's" there!) G.R.R.M, C.J. Cherryh, Dan Simmons, and (kind of out-there vs. "SF", but loved nonetheless) Tim Powers and China Mieville.
Excellent for those who enjoyed Neuromancer and other William Gibson novels, but Spin Control is far more interested in purely human drama than simply the alienation themes that Gibson explored.
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