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    VENTUS by Karl Schroeder

    TOR, Tom Doherty Associates, December 2000

    Jordon Mason has been having strange dreams of fighting a battle, of seeing from another man's eyes. Off-world humans alert him of a terrible plot. Arminger, who planted a portion of himself in Jordon, threatens to turn the entire world into the defeated God he served. Their manipulation of Arminger's sensing device is what allows Jordon to see what Arminger sees. They plan to use Jordon to save his world from the dead god's return.

    The world of Ventus is a strange human experiment run amuck. Hundreds of years before, humans had sent self-aware nanotechnology to teraform the planet and make it earthlike and liveable for humans. Yet, when the humans arrived, the nanotechnology entities (who form themselves into larger and larger fractile-style entities, the highest being the Winds who rule the planet like gods themselves), refuse to recognize them. Instead, they treat them as parasites--not destructive enough to be eliminated, yet not fully a part of the plan either. Even within the winds, a struggle between those who remember their mission to serve the humans and those who wish to destroy them is waged. Because the entire world is now fully enveloped with self-programming and self-replicating nanotechnology, the danger of Aminger's god seizing control is very real.

    Together, Jordon and his off-planet allies seek Arminger. Even when they find him, they are uncertain that they can destroy him for the Winds treat their technology as alien and therefore a disease to be eradicated. Yet Jordon senses a deeper conflict--one that cannot be resolved by simple destruction, if it can be resolved at all.

    In VENTUS, Karl Schroeder (see other reviews of novels by this author) has created a wonderfully powerful world. The fractile intelligence of the nanotechnology, and the fundamental questions that divide the nanos from humans are convincing and powerful. Schroeder has created moving characters with complete motivations that draw them into conflict and which sometimes cause them to act against their own interests. The parallel humanization (if this is the right word) of the enemies Arminger and Calandria May (leader of the off-worlders hunting Arminger) adds interest to an already compelling novel.

    VENTUS must be ranked one of the best science fiction novels of the year.

    Five Stars

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