To Hold Infinity

By John Meaney

Rating: 4 stars

I’d never read John Meaney until he was guest of honour at Satellite 4 (the 2014 Eastercon), where I attended a few panels/talks/interview that he did and was very impressed with the man. I found several of his books, including this one (which he very kindly signed for me in the bar, later), cheap in the dealers’ room and it was the first out of the (newly enlarged) book pile after the con.

This was quite a fun space opera, with interesting stuff about transhumanism and what augmentation means, especially if it can be applied to a society unequally. Tetsuo Sunadomari is an immigrant to the planet Fulgar from Earth, and is struggling to keep up with the cybernetically enhanced upper class of the world, the Luculentae. He discovers something that he doesn’t quite understand and suddenly finds himself on the run, into the unterraformed wastes of the planet, accused of murder. Meanwhile, his mother, Yoshiko, is coming to Fulgar to try and meet her son, while still grieving over the death of her husband. She gets thrown into the search for her son, as well as local politics and a plot that could affect Fulgar society forever.

That plot summary barely covers the bones of the book. Yoshiko is a great protagonist — much moreso, in my opinion, than her son — and it’s rare these days to find an older woman to be the focus of a book in this way. She’s also interesting for her effect on other people, the ability to get people working with her and on her side, but without manipulating them in any way.

The technology of the Luculentae is interesting, as they implant neural connections to their world-wide information network (the ‘Skein’), but the focus is on what this means for the human condition, and the sharp divide between the upper-class Luculentae, who have access to this technology, and the rest of the inhabitants. The way that this elite can communicate, sharing not just text and voice, but building multimedia messages in the most basic sense of the word: messages that include senses of smell, touch and taste as much as sight and sound.

In the midst of all this, there is Yoshiko, trying to understand this world she’s fallen into while also trying to find out what happened to her son, and dodge the maniacal serial killer who is currently stalking Luculentae society.

A very strong first novel, and I look forward to reading the other Meaney books that I picked up at the same time.

Book details

ISBN: 9781591024897
Publisher: Pyr
Year of publication: 1998

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