Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Worldwired by Elizabeth Bear

According to the advertisement on the last page of this novel Bears’ next book will not continue the story of Master Warrant Officer Jenny Casey. Why start my review with this fact? Because, in keeping with her first two novels Bear continues to give the reader interesting characters and situations but not neat tidy choices or actions, reflecting the large grey areas that occur in real life. When I reached the end of this novel it was ‘open’ enough that Bear could easily continue the characters story. In many ways the story is left more open than it is concludes. We do learn enough about the aliens, the Chinese, the ‘worldwire’ (as the alien nanotech spreads throughout the environment) and the characters that we are not left hanging. There is (just) enough closure that one can accept that the story will not be continued in Bears next novel without it driving the reader crazy. In its’ way the ending is in keeping with the world and characters created by Bear – no nice neat answers (or ending).

It is worth reading this novel just for the very interesting aliens Bear has written. Of course, the characters and Bears’ writing are worth reading the novel for. Finally, just enough answers to the questions left at the end of “Scardown” are provided so that anyone who read the previous novels will find it worthwhile reading this novel. So for those of you looking for some good hard SF: enjoy this novel. And join me in hoping that at some point Bear returns to this world, even 50 years into the future so that we can see and learn more of the aliens and the effect of them and their ‘gifts’ have on humanities future.


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