978-0-446-51400-2 / 9780446514002

Queen of Angels


Publisher:Grand Central Publishing



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About the book:

Eon and Eternity may have sold more copies, but Queen of Angels is Greg Bear's masterpiece; a novel of extraordinary richness and depth. The depth isn't immediately evident; the showy, well handled murder plotline keeps you reading, the many futuristic and mind-tickling ideas keep popping up to make you think, and the vaguely experimental division of the text between different viewpoints can be a little distracting. But at the core of this book is an exploration of the nature of consciousness as profound as any in literature. Martin Burke is a psychologist who investigates the motivations for a murder in a society, using nanotechnology to explore the Country of the Mind. AXIS is a sophisticated computer that has travelled to a distant planet. The two journeys of exploration are paralleled, but in their different ways they prove relative dead-ends. Bear's masterstroke is surreptitiously to delineate the shift of another sophisticated computer, JILL, from a linear intelligence based on processing data to a self-aware sentient intelligence that is a genuine consciousness. These passages at the novel's conclusion are amongst the most affecting things Bear has written.

It is true that aspects of this novel work less well; it is, for instance, in part an exploration of the role race plays in society, something that doesn't gel entirely. But overall it embodies exactly what Science Fiction does best--philosophical investigation into the mystery of consciousness expressed in an popular and accessible form. You finish the novel changed. A masterpiece of the genre; the author really does deserve the appellation The Great Bear. --Adam Roberts

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