978-0-553-57639-9 / 9780553576399





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About the book:

Essef - Distraction begins in 2044, and its plot revolves around Oscar's political battle with the mad governor of Louisiana, Green Huey, who is one of Sterling's most entertaining if least subtle creations. This gets started with a hilarious scene where an Air Force base is conned/forced by Huey into holding a bake-sale/road-block shakedown; Oscar is among the shaken. This sort of thing happens in broken-down empires with hyper-inflation, terminal political stagnation, and a collapsed economic base. But Sterling isn't just reflecting his recent travels in Russia; no, this is a high-tech information society, so instead of being run by the Organizatsiya, the country is run by networked permanent State of Emergency committees, media spin, pork-barrel spending, and the personal ``krewes'' of members of the overclass. There are better ways for Oscar to attack Huey than to have him shot, or than to have somebody run against him. These center around the Buna National Collaboratory in Buna, Texas, a huge self-contained biological research station, ``funded, created, and built in an age when recombinant DNA had been considered as dangerous as nuclear power plants'' (p. 24). Huey seems to be trying to subvert its administration, so Oscar engineers a laboratory revolution which puts Greta in charge of the Collaboratory. (The depiction of scientists' politics and mores at large research facility is dead-on, though it may be more funny if you grew up in and around the NIH. Giving bit characters at the Collaboratory the names of present-day neuroscientists is a bit heavy-handed, however.)

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